Innlegg under VISTA-dagen

Innlegg av statssekretær Kåre Fostervold under VISTA-dagen til Det norske videnskaps-akademi, 19.11.2013.

Innlegg av statssekretær Kåre Fostervold under VISTA-dagen til Det norske videnskaps-akademi, 19.11.2013. Sjekkes mot framføring.

  • Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a privilege for me to be invited to say a few words here at the VISTA day.
  • Today’s topic is the changing energy landscape and its consequences for research, education and industry.
  • The energy landscape is indeed changing, and the research community and industry is in part driving this change, and it must in part carry the consequences. More importantly, the consequences, good and bad, are felt by the society as a whole.
  • However, these challenges can also represent possibilities.
  • If we are to meet the future challenges of the world, scientists need to be engaged at all levels. This also includes the public debate.
  • In this regard, VISTA plays an important role by creating a unique arena for dialogue and cooperation between industry and academia in Norway.
  • Research, both within renewable energy and petroleum, are priority areas in the new Government’s policy platform. In the state budget for next year we have proposed an  increase of 36 million kroner for petroleum research and another 30 million for CCS R&D.
  • The Government’s aim is to improve the terms for energy and petroleum research – this is essential if we are to meet the twin challenges of producing enough energy for the world and combat climate change.
  • This is also essential if we are to keep our position as a leading energy nation. No matter how the energy landscape will evolve in the future, we need to be in the forefront!

Norway – an Energy Nation

  • Norway has an enormous energy production – especially in proportion to our population and domestic consumption.
  • We have the world’s largest hydropower production per capita and we are the sixth largest producer in total.  Norway holds about 50 percent of the reservoir capacity in Europe.
  • Norway is today also the world’s seventh largest petroleum producer  – and the third largest gas supplier.
  • In Europe, Norway supplies 20 % of total gas consumption (grønne linjer).
  • In addition, the existing electricity interconnectors  (blå linjer)between Norway and the European continent contribute to better use of available resources and improved security of supply – and they are commercially profitable.
  • Energy resources have been the backbone of the Norwegian society since the early 1900s.  For more than a century these resources have provided secure and flexible energy supply, public revenues, employment and economic growth.
  • But – and this is important – this has not come by itself!
  • To take advantage of the energy resources, sound resource management and an industry that can produce the resources are fundamental. Production must be sustainable – more specifically cost efficient, safe and with a minimal environmental footprint.
  • This can only happen with a dedication to competence building, research and technology development. 
  • Even if the Norwegian economy is sound and well at present, we need to be prepared for future challenges. Let me mention some of them:

A changing energy landscape

  • Climate change, the world’s economic situation, the shale gas revolution in the US and new renewable energy sources are among the challenges that lead to new demands when it comes to increased cost efficiency, sustainability, safety and flexibility.  
  • These changes, driven by external forces, shape the new energy landscape that we need to adapt to.
  • If Norway is to keep its leading position, the research communities must play a key role. Increased knowledge and technology development will provide valuable results in several areas.
  • One example is the expanding petroleum production in the High North. Here we have 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. 
  • Petroleum activities in the High North are demanding; commercially, environmentally, and technically. Handling these challenges requires knowledge, creativity and innovative skills from the petroleum industry at large.
  • Another example is the challenge of mature oil fields. Today the recovery rate on the Norwegian continental shelf is about 45 per cent. This is high compared to world average. Still –  a one percent increase in the recovery rate will lead to extra public revenues of more than 300 billion kr.
  • This is important. We need to make the most of our existing infrastructure and offshore installations.
  • And it is possible! When the investment decisions for the Ekofisk field were made 40 years ago, the expected recovery rate was 17 per cent. Today the expected recovery rate has increased to more than 50 per cent!
  • Recently the Minister of Petroleum and Energy visited Ekofisk. He was there to open a new project that will yield at least 40 new years of production. Altogether this gives us 80 years of production!
  • Continuous development of new technology has been vital to maintain and improve recovery rates.New technology, subsea compression, is about to be implemented on Åsgard. This will increase the recovery rate dramatically, and may be a game changer in the petroleum industry. 
  • The challenges in the High North and the ambition to increase oil recovery are two major reasons for the increase in the State Budget for petroleum research.
  • But the Government also acknowledges that our efforts to improve recovery rates tend to produce higher CO2 emissions.  We will therefore contribute both nationally and internationally to reduce national and global emissions. This is a priority area for the ministry.
  • The production at the Norwegian continental shelf is among the least pollutive in the world. And the world will need fossil fuels for a long time. The solution to the climate challenge is therefore not to close down the Norwegian petroleum production.
  • As Fatih Birol , chief economist in the IEA said last year: “We need every drop of the Norwegian oil”.
  • We will instead strive to keep our petroleum production as environmentally sound as possible. And we will continue to support the development of cost-efficient solutions for carbon capture and storage.

The importance of R&D to meet future challenges

  • The time has now come for what we in Norway will call a “dugnad”. We all need to work together towards our common goals.
  • The engagement and interaction between politicians, industry and research communities will be fundamental in finding solutions to the challenges of the future.
  • Our national R&D strategies, Energi21 and OG21, for the energy and petroleum sectors respectively, are good examples of how the major stakeholders in the industry work together with the government.
  • Both strategies provide guidance for government R&D priorities. And even more importantly: they stimulate cooperation within the industry.
  • I would like to underline a very important point: Petroleum and energy research is not only about energy production. It is also about industry development. Today these industries are providing cutting edge technology and competence to the global market place.
  • This is technology and competence that can find its use in various sectors. For instance,technology developed for installing offshore petroleum facilities can be expanded for other industry purposes – like offshore wind farms .
  • Petroleum and energy R&D activities also interact with R&D in other sectors, such as medicine and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The technology field of integrated operations draws upon smart ICT technologies and working procedures also found in health care. The petroleum industry also adopts and contributes to development of nano technologies. Such technologies reduce material costs and weight. For offshore developments this can mean “make or break”.
  • Contrary to common belief, both petroleum and hydropower activities are high-tech industries with an everlasting potential for innovation.
  • In addition to merely exporting our natural resources or the energy produced by them, I therefore believe that we in the coming years increasingly must see the potential of how we can export our knowledge and competence to the world.
  • To conclude: I am convinced that the best way to meet the future is by building knowledge and by investing in R&D.


  • My point is: no one knows for sure what the future holds and what the energy landscape will look like. Who could have foreseen the shale gas revolution 10 years ago? How can we be sure about long term effects of the political unrest in the Middle East?
  • Of one thing I am sure: Knowledge has no boundaries. It can be transformed into new skills and utilized across various scientific fields and disciplines. This is how innovation comes about. This is why I think VISTA is such a valuable program.
  • Even if we do not know today which skills and which technologies that will be necessary in the future, we do know that skills and technologies will be necessary – now and in the future.
  • One last thing: Energy will not run out of fashion.
  • The need for energy and competence combined, tells me that Norway will remain a leading energy nation for a long time
  • I wish you all an inspiring day. Thank you very much!