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Historical archive

Norwegian policy on the development of the High North

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Petroleum and Energy

Speech by Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Mr Ola Borten Moe, in Moscow 20.06.11.

Speech by Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Mr Ola Borten Moe, in Moscow 20.06.11.

This is the manuscript for the speech by Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Mr Ola Borten Moe, in Moscow 20.06.11.

Norwegian policy on the development of the High North

• The High North is one of the main focal points of the present Government. Our aim is to work diligently to safeguard a sustainable development in our northernmost regions. This implies expanding economic activities to continuously develop society, employment, growth and welfare, in due consideration of environmental concerns

• The Government will present a White Paper to the Storting on the oil and gas activities in Norway. The White paper will not least discuss geological mapping of new areas, efficient resource ma nagement, sustainable development and ripple effects

• We live in an era of high energy prices and growing concerns about energy security. At the same time, we have advanced offshore technologies and there is optimism about the resource potential of the Arctic and hence also the potential for increased activity and development. This forms the basis for looking more closely into the opportunities that the Arctic may provide in a world that will experience a growing energy demand to increase growth and welfare, and reduce poverty.

• Climate and environmental challenges can not be met without solving the worlds energy needs and poverty issues. Norway will be a part of the solution through our resource management.

• Ten years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey projected that around a quarter of the world’s remaining hydrocarbons may be located in the Arctic – with a high potential for such resources on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Since then Snøhvit, the first LNG field in Europe has been put in production in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea. And the oil field Goliat is presently being developed, while a large oil discovery on the  Skrugard prospect was recently made

•  Adding to this the activity and prospectivity of Arctic Russia and Arctic North America, it can clearly be stated that the Arctic represents a promising petroleum province

• In this respect, some say there is a “race for the Arctic”. The Arctic coastal states have, however, demonstrated during the past few years that there is no “legal vacuum” in the Arctic. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea largely regulates what we do in the maritime areas. The Arctic coastal states deal with thier rights and obligations in a legal and responsible manner. This has left the Arctic as a very stable region. There is no race

• Our common target is sustainable management and responsible cooperation between the Arctic states – and the aim is sustainable economic development

Let me continue to say a few words about the relations between Norway and Russia. A vantage point in this respect is the treaty on maritime delimitation in the Barents Sea and the Polar Ocean, which will enter into force on 7 July 2011 

• With this treaty, we are setting an example worldwide of how delimitation disputes can be resolved peacefully, in accordance with international law and within the framework of modern international jurisprudence. With this treaty, Norway and Russia are also making it clear that there is no ongoing race for resources in the Arctic, but that we – as responsible Arctic coastal states – are adhering to international law, including the international law of the sea

• Through our agreement on maritime delimitation in the Barents Sea, we send a signal to all Arctic states and the rest of the world that we deal with differences through negotiations, on the basis of modern principles

• The treaty also covers cooperation in these areas – not least with regard to the exploitation of any transboundary petroleum deposits that are discovered. Such deposits shall be exploited as one unit. I look forward to our further cooperation in this respect

• The treaty creates new opportunities for petroleum activities and cooperation in areas of the Barents Sea that have so far been closed to such activities. This is the start of a new chapter in our cooperation and our energy dialogue

• The geological mapping in this area so far tells us little about the prospectivity. Norway will start geological mapping on its side of the delimitation line when the treaty enters into force. This will be one element in an impact assessment that we will carry out for this part of our continental shelf

• Norway subscribes to the highest possible standards of health, safety, and the environment in our oil and gas activities and has adopted an integrated management plan for our northernmost waters. The plan takes a comprehensive, step-by-step approach to the development of petroleum resources in the high North. Further, our regime has been based on coexistence  with other interests at sea, such as fisheries and sea transport

• The Barents Sea is one of the cleanest, richest and most productive marine areas in the world. As petroleum exploration and production expand into the Arctic, we must therefore balance the need to maintain the qualities of the Barents Sea against our work towards continuous and sustainable development

• “We can only ensure sustainable use of resources and sound environmental management in the Barents Sea with Russia’s engagement and Norwegian-Russian cooperation.” In this respect, this direct quote from our High North Strategy is both a statement of fact and a guide to action

• Norway and Russia share the Barents Sea and many of the challenges of the high North. If we are to maintain the northern seas in their present pristine condition, our two countries must expand their cooperation in this respect. For reasons of geography, geology and ecology, we need to manage our relations in a way that makes us both part of the solution to the sustainability challenges of the High North

• As strategic partners on the petroleum sector in the North, a natural starting point for our energy cooperation will be linked to energy dialogue and industrial cooperation and thereby ensure that the Barents Sea, which we share, becomes a model area for good resource management

• Another issue is to attract the petroleum industry. In this respect, we must for example ensure that investors, both foreign and national have access to licences and petroleum reserves on terms that are favourable enough to compensate for technological, financial and other perceived risks

• The combination of industrial complementarity and geographic proximity is also a good basis for releasing the potential for energy cooperation between Norway and Russia. Both sides stand to gain from cross-utilisation or co-development of skilled labour, specialised offshore technologies, logistical networks and other infrastructure in the North. These possibilites would also be put to good use in case cross-border petroleum deposits if they are discovered in the Barents Sea. The new delimitation agreement provides that all such petroleum deposits shall be unitised and exploited jointly as one unit

• From our side, we will continue to work actively – both in relation to Russia and in relation to the northern areas of Norway to secure long term and sustainable exploitation of the petroleum resources of the high North

• Turning now to another important issue, I would like to make a few reflections on the recent developments in the Arctic Council. The recent Foreign Ministers’ meeting signalled the increased importance of the Arctic Council. Norway is proud and honoured to have been vested with the responsibility of creating this Arctic secretariat, which will be located in Tromsø. We hope that it will be manned by people from all the Arctic Council member states

• The Arctic Council itself has also undergone an interesting development. While originally concentrating on protection and environmental concerns in the Arctic, the Council now has its main focus on adaptation to new conditions due to melting of sea ice, in addition to dealing with pollution and climate change. One result of this is the first legally binding agreement under the auspices of the Arctic Council – relating to search and rescue. 

In summary, ladies and gentlemen:

- We will continue to work actively – both in relation to Russia and in relation to the northern areas of Norway to secure long term and sustainable exploitation of the petroleum resources of the High North

- I take it for granted that we will be able to make production and consumption of oil and gas ever more environmentally friendly. A main goal is to always reconcile Norway's role as a large energy producer with a pioneering position on environmental and climate issues

- I am a strong believer in good resource management, and I am of the opinion that it is not so much a question of whether oil and gas activities should take place in challenging regions like for instance the Arctic, but on what conditions

- I look forward to exploring and realising the increased potential for cooperation between Norway and Russia rendered by the new delimitation treaty. I strongly believe that there are many, many opportunities that we can pursue jointly and realise in a sustainable manner.

Thank you for your attention!

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