European Energy Security and Arctic Petroleum Resources

Tale i anledning Arctic Frontiers-konferansen i Tromsø 26.januar 2016

Check against delivery

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the invitation.

And to all newcomers - welcome to the Arctic!

 2015: Sustainable development goals and COP21

I will start with some fundamental facts as important background for our discussions today.

First:  We need to deliver more energy to a world that demands it. The world population is growing. Energy is needed to reduce poverty, and to improve health and standards of living.

Second: The message from Paris is equally clear: We also need to act on the climate challenge - and lower emissions.

With major emitters on board, the Paris Agreement is a significant step towards fighting global climate change.

And third: We need to choose policies that actually work.

An important measure in this respect is to establish a price on greenhouse gas emissions, which is long overdue.

Already in 1991 Norway introduced a CO2 tax offshore. We know that it works. I encourage more countries to follow this example

Another measure is to substitute gas for coal. This is one of the most efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

New technologies – like CCS – will also continue to be very important in this respect.

From a Norwegian point of view, we will carry on producing our petroleum resources in the best possible way, and with a minimum environmental footprint.

I can assure you that Norway will continue to combine its leadership in the climate negotiations with being a long term and predictable exporter of oil and gas.

Norway has long experience as an Arctic petroleum nation

A fruitful international discussion on Arctic issues should be based on facts, experience and knowledge.

Oil and gas activities have taken place in the Arctic for more than 80 years. Parts of the Barents Sea were opened for petroleum activities in 1979, and we have drilled more than 100 exploration wells in this area. 

Many new oil and gas fields have been discovered. We have Snøhvit – the LNG field in production since 2007. Goliat – our first oil field – will go on stream this year.

The large Castberg oil field is also currently being planned for development.

Much of our remaining oil and gas resources are located in the north, and the Barents Sea has established itself as a new and promising petroleum province – thereby strengthening Norway's position as a long term and stable supplier of oil and gas.

We also plan to award new production licenses in the south-eastern part of the Barents Sea this year – thereby moving into a new area for the first time since the mid-1990ties.

And we will continue to award new licenses in mature areas every year.

The activities in the north as on all other parts of the Shelf, are based on the highest health, safety and environmental standards.

No activity will be permitted unless it meets our strict standards. This includes catering for both new and traditional industries living side by side.

Blue Arctic

Some prefer to describe operational conditions to be the same all over the region. That is, as I hope you all know, simply not true.

The conditions in the Arctic are diverse.  The climate conditions vary substantially throughout the region.

Let me make a first point in that regard. I was born in what both Brussels and most Europeans call the Arctic. Seemingly a mystical, dark, frozen and remote part of the world.

Actually, it wasn’t until I entered national politics that I started to reflect upon this image of Northern Norway.

There is half a million people living in these areas, we have universities, we have roads and we have ice-free harbors.

And I can promise those of you who are here for the first time: There is absolutely no danger of encountering live polar bears in the streets!

Our part of the Arctic is mostly ice-free. While other areas are covered in ice part of the year or all year.

Due to the Gulf Stream the conditions in the Norwegian Barents Sea are comparable to those further south on our Continental Shelf.

Gas is part of the climate solution

Norway has significant untapped oil and gas resources in the Barents Sea, and wants to remain a long term and secure supplier of gas to the EU.

Replacing coal by gas will reduce emissions from power production significantly.

Gas is the perfect back-up fuel for intermittent renewable energy sources. Norway is the largest producer of natural gas in Western Europe.

Signals from EU-countries, like the UK, show that gas will be an important part of their efforts to reduce emissions .

However, gas supply requires large upfront investments, and investors need predictability to develop new projects.

Put simply: While Norway is important to the EU for gas supply; The EU is important for Norway for gas demand.

Clear and appropriate signals from both the markets and relevant policy-makers concerning the role of natural gas in the future energy mix of the EU

We also need a clear and a coherent regulatory framework to encourage companies to invest in and develop oil and gas resources in the Barents Sea, including extending our existing gas pipeline system further north.

Summary

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen; it is time to summarize.

Our activity in the Norwegian Arctic is not mystical, it is not new, and we have the same strict environmental and safety regulations as elsewhere on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Furthermore, there is no race for natural resources in the Arctic. The activity is regulated through both international and national la , and the area is not a high tension region.

We need more energy, and lower emissions.

I see a common agenda for Norway and the EU. With energy security at the top, I am glad Norway is considered a key strategic partner.

Thank you for your attention!