Government grilled over Mongstad

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Norway’s Oil and Energy Minister faced hostile questioning by a parliamentary committee this week, after the government announced more lengthy delays in development of its much-hyped carbon recapture project at Statoil’s Mongstad power plant.

Opposition politicians wanted to find out when the government first realized the project would be delayed, and why.

Minister Terje Riis-Johansen conceded there were “technical details” that arose in 2009, but they were different from those that emerged in March of this year, when the government realized it couldn’t have the project ready by 2014.

“It has always been clear that the ambitions were challenging,” he said.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Gassnova, a state enterprise responsible for managing the state’s interests in carbon matters, testified that it had warned about a lack of employees and scant resources. Officials from both Gassnova and Statoil and Riis-Johansen testified that the project is unique in the world, extremely complicated and faces challenges tied to emissions, operational safety, commercial foundation and costs.

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