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New oil era predicted for Norway

Film star Kevin Costner has been in Norway this week, to promote oil spill clean-up equipment and warn Norwegians about oil spill danger. Meanwhile, a top government official was predicting that Norway’s offshore reserves still have plenty to offer in the years ahead.

Actor Kevin Costner, appearing at the offshore conference in Stavanger in his role as entrepreneur and environmentalist. PHOTO: ONS 2010

Despite many widely held views that Norway’s offshore oil will run out later this century, Oil & Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen was predicting a new oil era. He sees new “golden times” ahead for an industry that otherwise seems to constantly be at odds with the government’s own environmental and climate goals.

The Norwegian government has often been accused of hypocrisy, as it mounts public efforts to cut carbon emissions all over the world while continuing to nurture and benefit from its own oil industry at home. Riis-Johansen, who hails from the small Center Party that’s keen on portraying an environmentally friendly profile, takes a pragmatic approach, promoting the industry while also promoting new technology to cut oil emissions both in Norway and away.

“We’ve never used more money on research and development projects as we are now,” Riis-Johansen said while appearing at the huge Offshore Northern Seas ONS 2010 conference in Stavanger.

Around 40 percent of Norway’s offshore reserves are believed to have been tapped already. Another 24 percent of the remaining volume is believed to have been discovered and the other 36 percent is expected to be localized in the near future, reported news bureau NTB.

In a speech delivered at ONS on Wednesday, Riis-Johansen chose to be optimistic. “As I see it, the outlook for the industry is good in Norway,” he said. “Since 60 percent of our resources haven’t been brought up yet, that makes us attractive and there is great interest in exploration in Norwegian fields.”

He thinks a new era will arrive in the Barents Sea, following agreement on borders with Russia. The Barents remains, however, an area of controversy because of environmental concerns in a fragile Arctic environment.

Costner’s own campaign
Film star Kevin Costner, who’s emerged lately as an environmental activist, also has plenty of concerns. He made the trip to Stavanger this week, and said he appreciated the chance to appear at ONS 2010, to promote his companies’ oil spill clean-up equipment and warn Norwegians about the oil industry’s threat to the coastline.

Costner noted how Norwegians identify themselves with the sea and the shoreline. They’re threatened by oil drilling and the danger of spills, Costner said, not unlike what occurred in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

Everyone involved with the oil industry must realize that accidents can happen, Costner said. The day can come when west coast residents find themselves “standing on the shoreline in rubber boots,” cleaning up oil.

ONS 2010 has attracted more than 40,000 persons involved in the oil and gas industry, from around 100 countries. Norway’s state oil company Statoil plays a prominent role at the conference, held every other year, and confirmed its ongoing efforts to diversify into new areas as reserves at home run thin.

Statoil lately has become involved in extraction of skifergass (shale gas) in North America and now expects to do the same in China. John Knight, Statoil’s newly named director for global strategy and business development, told newspaper Aftenposten that Statoil is among the companies identified by Chinese authorities as a possible cooperation partner on development of shale gas fields in China.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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