Speeches and statements

The Minister of Petroleum and Energy's Speech at the Autumn Conference 2023

Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland held this speech at the Autumn Conference in Oslo on 21th November 2023.

Check against delivery. 

Minister Sikela, distinguished guests, dear friends,

I am pleased to be here with you. The Autumn Conference is a key venue for the energy sector.

It has been a challenging 12 months. Although we see more stability in the energy markets than a year ago, there are still many hurdles to cross.

There are few signs of an early end to Russia’s war in Ukraine. The war between Israel and Hamas has increased the geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

The energy markets are still fragile and vulnerable. Energy prices are volatile, and combined with increasing prices in general and interest rates, the situation is still uncertain and unstable for many.

At the same time, we see the impact of climate change at unprecedented levels: Wildfires, floods, storms and droughts worldwide. And 2022 was a record year for greenhouse gas emissions.

In just a week from now, the nations of the world will gather in Dubai for COP 28, where they will conduct the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement.

The world's leaders have to agree on an ambitious, realistic and feasible way forward in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

In a few minutes, Dr. Fatih Birol will present findings from World Energy Outlook.

The transition is not going fast enough. The investments we need to succeed in reaching our common climate goals are not big enough.

I am glad that the updated analyses from the IEA show that the world in some ways is moving in the right direction with regards to limiting climate change, but it is also a strong reminder that we have to speed up.

For the first time, all three scenarios indicate that the use of coal, oil and gas will peak within this decade.

While the use of coal is expected to fall quickly, the use of oil and gas is expected to remain relatively stable between 2030 and 2050 in the stated policies scenario.

- Meaning: The world’s energy security will depend on fossil fuels for many years to come. So to succeed in cutting emissions and reaching our climate targets, we need to decarbonize the production and the use of fossil fuels.

The World Energy Outlook reveals in clear terms how challenging the energy transition will be. There are no simple solutions.

What we must deal with is described as the energy trilemma:

  • How to provide energy security to a growing world population.
  • How to do so in a sustainable manner, also in terms of costs.
  • And how to make energy affordable for all, secure industrial investments and save jobs.

In order to succeed, we must deliver on all three criteria – at the same time.

We must succeed in this task. The support for a fast energy transition needed to reach the global climate goals depends on people and industry around the world having access to reliable and affordable energy every day.

In my view, energy security is just as important now as 50 years ago, when the oil crisis led to the establishment of IEA. Affordable energy and energy security is key to achieving support for the climate solutions we need.

The events over the last years have reminded us of this.

Norway will fulfil our obligation to remain a stable supplier of energy to Europe and the world. And we will meet our climate obligations – but we too need to speed up.

We have a great opportunity to take a leading position in new technologies like blue hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and offshore wind, especially floating, to be a supplier of energy without emissions in the years to come. An important foundation for this position is to further the development of the Norwegian continental shelf.

Norway does not operate in a vacuum. Security of supply and sustainability is connected to the global energy transition and our common climate goals.

With a growing global population, the demand for energy in the world is huge, both now and in the years to come. A large part of the demand is still covered by fossil fuels. Use of coal is actually increasing. The growth in world oil use in 2023 is bigger than the entire Norwegian production.

In this picture, what would actually happen if we cut the supply of fossil fuels? A strengthened energy crisis? Higher, more volatile prices? It is at least very likely that the demand for energy would not be properly met. This would likely push up the supply of fossil fuels - and we’re back to where we started.

But cutting the demand for fossil fuels without CCS is central to reducing emissions.

Balanced and predictable supply-side and demand-side policies, at a pace reflecting the adoption of renewable energy, would help reduce the risk of high and unstable energy prices.

My firm belief is that it is possible to achieve both energy security and push for energy transition at the same time.

We must reach net zero emissions, while securing a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs.

Norway, as the only net-exporter of oil and gas in Europe, will contribute to European energy security also going forward.

We will keep on delivering oil and gas produced efficiently with low emissions.

To do so we need to and will continue exploration and investment in production on our continental shelf. Then we expect to be able to maintain high production over the next decade, before natural decline starts.

This is also imperative for our investments in CCS, hydrogen and offshore wind.

With many years of experience from our continental shelf, Norwegian companies and their partners are at the forefront in the development of these technologies.

To wrap it up: The Government will not lose sight of the need for energy security, both at home and abroad. We will make sure that Norway remains a reliable provider of energy to Europe.

Our petroleum sector is not only providing energy security today. It is crucial in developing the technologies for tomorrow.

This is why the Government will continue to develop the Norwegian petroleum sector, and to build on its competence to develop solutions for the future.

We must succeed at cutting emissions and transition to a net zero energy system in 2050.

The knowledge and competence you represent will be instrumental. I’m looking forward to the discussions later, and to hearing your views on the way ahead.