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Åpnet forskningssenter for arktisk petroleumsvirksomhet i Tromsø

Universitetet i Tromsø 25.februar 2014

Olje- og energiminister Tord Lien åpnet tirsdag det nye forsknings- og kompetansesenteret for petroleumsvirksomhet i Arktis (ARCEx). Senteret er tilknyttet Universitetet i Tromsø og blir finansiert av Olje- og energidepartementet og Utenriksdepartementet gjennom Norges forskningsråd.

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Mayor, organizers and representatives from the university, research institutes and industry: Thank you for inviting me to take part in the official opening of the Research Centre for Arctic Petroleum Exploration – ARCEX! 

56 years ago today - on february 25th 1958, the Norwegian Geological Survey concluded that there were no hydrocarbons on the Norwegian continental shelf. Well, they were wrong.

For those of you who don´t know me, allow me to briefly introduce myself in a relevant way for this occasion: Before taking office as minister of petroleum and energy, I spent two terms in parliament. 
The first four years as member of the standing committee on Energy and the Environment, the second in the committee on Education and Research. Needless to say, I care about both energy and research, and I find them inseparably connected! That is also why I am very pleased to be here at the University of Tromsø today.

Neil Armstrong, The first man to step on the moon, summarized the meaning of research: “In much of society, research means to investigate something you do not know or understand”. 
We have a lot of knowledge concerning petroleum resources in northern and Arctic areas. 
But, we should always strive to get better. We should be humble, and always aim to improve our knowledge of challenges related to petroleum activities in these areas.
That is exactly what the Research Centre for Arctic Petroleum Exploration is about!

Opportunities in the North
As a brief introduction to why opening this centre is a milestone, allow me to share with you some perspectives on what is going on in the North as we speak.
We have more than forty years of experience solving complex challenges on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Both exploration and production have been demanding. Many of the discoveries have been made in remote areas, with no infrastructure.

In this environment Norwegian industry has developed cutting edge technology: Advanced offshore supply vessels, subsea production systems, safer and more efficient drilling equipment and multiphase flow over long distances, are just some examples.

In the North we have the same aspirations as for the southern part of the continental shelf:  The aim is to maximize the value creation – to the benefit of society as a whole. 

It has been said for years that our petroleum activities are heading north. I prefer to say that they have already arrived, and that there is a momentum as we speak. 

Senior Vice President Operations North at Statoil, Hans Jacob Hegge, recently called Northern Norway a “cathedral” because of the increasing oil production. Of course, I didn´t know that cathedrals produce much oil, but optimism is high, and there are opportunities for those with the courage and willingness to embrace them.  
Here are some of the reasons for optimism. We currently have production at Snøhvit. Goliat is soon to follow. We are also waiting for Johan Castberg, and recent discoveries like Wisting, Norvarg and Gotha. 
Last summer we opened the southeastern part of the Barents Sea for exploration. That was the first time in almost twenty years that new areas were made available, and companies are already showing a strong interest.
We recently submitted for public consultation the proposed areas to be included in the 23rd concession round on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Thirty-four blocks are in the southeastern part of the Barents Sea and twenty are located in other parts of the Barents Sea. This clearly underlines my point. The petroleum activities are not just heading north, the development of a petroleum province in the North is happening right here. Right now. 

Some challenges

Operating in the Barents Sea is to a large extent quite similar to what the petroleum companies are already doing further south, and indeed in the western parts of the Barents Sea. They have the tools, and they have the knowledge. 
However, there are areas where improved knowledge will make the industry even better positioned to take advantage of opportunities in the North. 
This is because we are faced with several demanding challenges, like:
Storms, snow showers, icing and several months of winter darkness. Long distances, lack of infrastructure and a geology less known to us form another set of both logistical and technical challenges. 

As for the rest of our petroleum activities on the Norwegian continental shelf, the activities in the Arctic are of course based on the highest health, safety and environmental standards. We need to make sure that the best technology available is applied. And we must support the industry in their efforts to improve both technology and working procedures in order to minimize impacts and risks to the Arctic environment, and in that way ensure a sustainable exploitation of the resources.

At the same time, operations must be commercially viable.
A sound commitment to research and development from all parts involved is vital in order to succeed. Key words are collaboration, knowledge, creativity and innovative skills. Against this backdrop it is evident that ARCEX has an important role to fill. 

Government policy on energy research

As indicated above, the industry has the main responsibility for developing new technologies and solutions. There can be no doubt about that. However, the Government has an important role providing appropriate incentives for the industry to undertake research and development. 

And this is a Government truly dedicated to R&D! In our policy platform, R&D on both renewable energy as well as petroleum resources are given priority.
In the national technology strategy for the petroleum industry, OG –Twenty One, arctic conditions are addressed, and several technological areas that are of specific importance to the Arctic have also been identified. 

In the state budget for 2014, we have added 36 million kroner to petroleum research in order to strengthen both the PETROMAKS 2 and DEMO 2000 programs.

However, our ambitions and goals can only be effective if they are aligned with those of the industry. And collaboration between all parts involved is the real key to succeed. That is why it is encouraging to see how the engagement and interaction between oil companies, industry and research institutions have been fundamental in finding solutions to a variety of challenges. 

I am truly impressed with the way these players are collaborating, and how they are bringing world class technology and innovative solutions to the market.
The development of multiphase technology is an excellent example. Knowing how to handle multiphase flow is essential when transporting gas from Snøhvit to Melkøya. 

Another example is subsea water separation. This is a technology that can increase production from fields far away from other infrastructure – indeed relevant for Arctic conditions. 

Should we have petroleum research?

When opening a centre dedicated to petroleum research, I think it is appropriate to address the ongoing debate about ethics and whether we ought to carry out such research? My answer is a loud and clear: yes! Not just “yes we can”, but yes we should. 
Why? Because we need energy, and we need lots of it! A growing population, combined with aspirations for  improved living conditions  in both poor countries as well as developing ones, require more energy. 
People need energy to cook, to get an education, to find work and to improve their health conditions. Thus, the demand for energy will continue to rise.

Some say we should not do research on petroleum, but on renewable sources of energy. 
It is tempting to answer just like Winnie the Pooh: “Yes please, both.” If we are to meet the rising demand, we need both renewable energy and fossil sources. 
As Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the International Energy Agency, has put it on more than one occasion: ”We need every drop of Norwegian oil”. 

Why is he saying that? Because oil and gas will have to cover a large portion of the world’s energy needs for decades to come. This is the case even if renewable energy is expected to increase its share of the energy mix. Even in a world where we meet the two degree scenario, oil and gas plays an important part of the energy supply.That is exactly why we should continue to carry out petroleum research. 

Through research and development we search for the best means to recover the petroleum resources.
Important challenges are: 

How can we recover more of the resources with less use of energy, with a minimum environmental footprint, and with less emissions of climate gasses? 
How can we provide more natural gas that can replace coal fired power in Europe? 
How we can operate with minimal risk of humans getting injured? 
How petroleum activities can co-exist together with other industries and human activities?

These are just some of the challenges that the real heroes of this industry, the scientists, work with on a daily basis. Having said all this, I think you all understand that this centre will not be closed on ethical grounds as long as this government remains in power. On the contrary, I have high expectations about what can be achieved here.

Expectations for ARCEx
I am hopeful that the petroleum research centre here in Tromsø will be a driving force in breaking down barriers and reaching new R&D milestones.This should also boost Northern Norway’s participation in research programs, such as the already mentioned Demo2000.

The fact that this centre is co-funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is a clear indication that the Government sees ARCEX in a broad context. 

I would also like to commend The Norwegian Research Council for having done an excellent job organizing the call for projects and evaluation, and I know they will continue to follow the centre closely. 
A keyword is collaboration. This centre is exactly just that – a sound collaboration between the University in Tromsø, and several other research institutions, universities and companies. 

I won’t mention any of them in particular; in case I forget some, I just want to say that I am very pleased to see that all parties are working together. 


It is time to summarize and leave the stage for the researchers. I can talk about challenges. But it is their job to find solutions. 

As an Arctic coastal state, Norway has important interests to protect, and a significant responsibility to ensure a peaceful, secure and sustainable development of the North.

The Government aims to develop Northern Norway to become one of the most productive and sustainable regions in the country, taking advantage of natural resources in the best possible way.

I am from the North myself, and I have high expectations for what the petroleum industry will mean for this part of the country in the coming years. Research should be a priority issue, and I invite you all to look hard, and to be brave. 
Thank you for your attention, good luck with the new centre and most importantly: CONGRATULATIONS!