Tale/innlegg | Dato: 30.11.2021 | Olje- og energidepartementet
Olje- og energiminister Marte Mjøs Persen holdt dette innlegget da hun åpnet Equinors Høstkonferanse den 30. november
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Thank you Nashater, for your kind introduction.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour for me to speak to such a distinguished audience here at the Autumn Conference.
The starting point of my presentation is the transition of the energy system, and how petroleum, renewables and low emission solutions can complement each other in solving what I would call the energy trilemma:
Energy needs to be available, affordable and have low emissions.
Availability calls for us to ensure the reliability of energy infrastructure, and not least, the ability of energy providers to meet current and future demand.
Affordability is equally important. The challenge of the current situation with soaring energy prices, whether it's electricity in Norway or gas in Europe, should not be underestimated.
And it holds an important message to all of us: Access to affordable energy is key for economic growth, businesses and livelihoods across the world.
And finally, to complete the trilemma: We must meet the energy demand within the framework of our climate goals and environmental sustainability.
Two weeks ago, the COP26 climate summit was concluded.
The Glasgow Climate Pact is clear in its message: We need to work towards the 1,5-degrees target – and encourage countries to strengthen their 2030-targets in accordance with the Paris Agreement, and to do so within 2022.
A tremendous task which no country can handle alone – and the number one priority should be to reduce the demand for fossil fuels, where coal by far is the most polluting source of energy.
To ensure affordable and available energy, while at the same time reducing emissions, poses a great challenge – to all of us.
At the end of the day, I want you to leave this conference with a sense of optimism, because it is a challenge that can be solved, and it will provide new opportunities.
My point is that cutting emissions and helping others to cut theirs, is also about creating new jobs, activity, welfare and opportunities in national and international markets.
There is a connection – not a contradiction.
As a significant energy nation both in terms of oil and gas as well as renewables, Norway has many advantages as the world strives to reach the UN Sustainable Development goals including the climate goals.
The priority for me and this government is to work with business, industry and other partners to help us all succeed in the transition towards a renewable, circular and sustainable society.
Let me assure you that these issues are on top of our agenda - and contributing to the solution to the energy trilemma is what our policies aim for.
Now, being a mother of nine-year-old triplets, I have some experience in solving three challenges at the same time.
I would of course never compare parenthood to one of the greatest undertakings mankind has faced - though it sometimes feels that way.
However, I do believe some principles apply for both.
It takes a bit of cooperation.
And not least, a lot of room and support for growth and development.
During COP26 in Glasgow, one observation caught my attention.
Diplomats no longer dominate the COP.
It is dominated by people like you, industries and businesses.
Together with people like me, politicians.
I believe this reflects the very core of how to approach the energy transition:
The close cooperation between industries and policies.
A cooperation which has to include all aspects of civil society, employers and employees, young and old, majorities and minorities. Everyone.
Because it has to be a just transition – it also requires popular support.
So, the Norwegian government has pointed out a direction – where we together will grasp the opportunities and solve the challenges this transition represents.
In our governing platform, our ambitions are clear:
Our policies will have an active approach – creating jobs, increasing exports and facilitating new and existing industries based on our common natural resources.
Common natural resources such as petroleum.
Coming from the west coast of Norway and having a husband who has worked offshore for many years - I know what these resources mean for jobs and industrial development. Employing about 200 000 people and generating ripple effects all across the country.
Norway is a reliable supplier of oil and gas to Europe, and we will continue to be so.
Exports of Norwegian natural gas will help Europe reaching its climate goals without risking its energy security:
- Gas enables the ongoing phase-out of coal in the power sector.
- It is also important as a backup for the increasing share of intermittent power generation from wind and solar.
- And in the long run it may be a source for low emission hydrogen in combination with carbon capture and storage. I will come back to this last point later.
The sector is without comparison our most important industry in terms of revenues, investment and exports, as well as jobs.
Our attention and ambitions should be accordingly.
In our government platform, we have been clear that we will develop, not dismantle, the petroleum industry.
Development means predictability; therefore, the government will facilitate a continued high level of activity on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
We will continue to have a responsible oil and gas policy based on facts and knowledge.
The licensing framework remains, including opening for exploration in new areas. However, we will not go forward with a new numbered concession round in 2022.
And the temporary petroleum tax regime will be upheld.
On the other hand, development also means change.
The government's oil and gas policy is in accordance with our goals under the Paris agreement.
Norwegian oil and gas production is part of the EU Emissions Trading System.
In addition, it's subject to carbon taxation and strict environmental regulation. The CO2 tax on the Norwegian continental shelf is high today but will gradually increase.
We know that such measures work. On average, the carbon footprint of production per barrel on the NCS is at about half the global average.
Our oil and gas industry has low emissions today, but if we are to reach our targets, emissions from oil and gas production must continue to be reduced.
Our government intends to cooperate with the industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the Norwegian continental shelf by 50 per cent by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.
Furthermore, we will reduce the financial climate risk that investments in oil and gas entail.
Our CO2-pricing is pushing the industry to improve.
With this in mind, let me commend you for the progress and investments made so far to reach these ambitions.
In the years ahead, we will continue to facilitate for production with even lower emissions:
- By continuing the electrification of oil and gas-fields.
- And by ensuring that the oil companies integrate climate risk stress tests in their investment decisions.
Finally, it's about growth and development – we want them to be well prepared for the future.
We must ensure support for a green transition, building on the expertise of the oil and gas industry in new business areas.
Such as offshore wind.
Currently our largest renewable export.
Ship owners, shipyards and suppliers are increasingly turning their attention to this growing market.
And, Hywind Tampen was the first, of hopefully many to come.
In this respect, the Norwegian government will place its efforts through an ambitious national strategy for offshore wind, including commitments to the supplier industry, regulations and a grid infrastructure on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
As you know, two large areas for offshore wind have recently been opened - "Sørlige Nordsjø II" and "Utsira Nord".
I am glad to say that there is a lot of interest for the opened areas.
Many strong consortiums have been formed, and they have expressed interest in applying for licenses in both areas.
We will also continue the work on opening new areas for offshore wind.
Another factor in the green transition building on our oil and gas competence is carbon capture and storage or CCS.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to visit the Northern Lights facility at Øygarden.
What I already knew, and which certainly became even clearer there, is that CCS is a crucial part of the solution to the climate challenge.
And, that Norway can offer storage capacity, knowledge and experience from 20 years of CO2 storage at Sleipner and 10 years at Snøhvit.
CCS can also make an important contribution to the development of new and green industries, such as carbon neutral cement production and hydrogen.
The government is committed to following up the Longship-project and invest in CCS to cut emissions and create jobs.
And to develop a robust value-chain for carbon capture and storage, aiming for at least two full-scale capture facilities and a storage facility in the North Sea.
And finally, hydrogen.
This is an energy carrier with low emissions and with opportunities for value creation and employment.
The government platform aims to:
- Build a coherent value chain within hydrogen where production, distribution and use are developed.
- Set a goal of annual production of blue and green hydrogen by 2030.
- Consider establishing a state-owned hydrogen company.
- And use instruments that will be central in the development of hydrogen, such as the CO₂ tax, access to long-term capital, and the use of public procurement.
A successful energy transition is at the heart of reaching the global climate challenge.
The transition will also make a difference in Norway, whether it is hydrogen, CCS or offshore wind.
But our ambitions go further: We aim to develop and export new technology than can be of use beyond our borders.
Adding it all up, we have a near perfect starting point to solve the three great challenges ahead facing the global energy system: Affordability, availability and sustainability.
I believe we have every reason to be a great energy nation in the years to come.
As I mentioned earlier, it will take a bit of cooperation. Together, we will find solutions.
Some direction. To facilitate a high level of activity on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, ensuring our welfare – and to continue to reduce emissions from production.
And not least, room and support for growth and development in order to find new, sustainable ways for fueling further progress.
After all, whether we are parents, politicians, industry leaders or just ordinary people – we are in this for the next generations. For their well-being and livelihoods in a sustainable future.
Thank you so much for your attention!