Shared environmental challenges in the High North

230 representatives from the Norwegian and Russian energy sectors met Tuesday to discuss the sustainable development of the fossil energy resources in the Barents region. Norwegian technology for capturing and storing CO2 could be the solution.

30/01/2007 ::

Environmental concerns. The Barents sea, seen on this satellite photo, is a major future source of hydrocarbons, but remains ecologically vulnerable.

Faced with Europe’s increasing demand for energy Norway and Russia, the biggest suppliers of oil and gas to the EU, face the task of exploiting energy resources in the Barents region while preserving the natural environment.

“Norway shares with its Russian neighbours the ambitions of developing the High North in accordance with the highest environmental standards” the Norwegian minister of Petroleum and Energy Odd Roger Enoksen said Tuesday.

Mr. Enoksen spoke at the 5th annual Russian-Norwegian Oil and Gas Conference in Kirkenes, Norway. The conference saw key representatives from the oil and gas industries of the two major energy suppliers to the European market gathered in Northern Norway for discussions under the slogan “Partnership in the North”.

Rising EU demand

Exporting some 6,64 and 2,74 million barrels of oil per day in 2005, Russia and Norway are the world’s 2nd and 3rd largest oil exporters respectively. Russia, the number one gas exporter to the EU, provides 40 percent of the EU’s imports of natural gas while Norway, second only to Russia, provides another 25 percent.

The two energy suppliers are both looking to increase extraction of oil and gas from the Barents region in the northernmost corner of Europe to meet the increased demands from energy consumers in the European Union and worldwide.

The Norwegian government is eager to increase oil production in the Barents sea, yet remains steadfast that such a development must pay heed to concerns for the fragile natural environment in the High North. 

Cleaner extraction

“Part of the answer could be CO2 capture and storage. The Norwegian government is focusing on developing this option, and CO2 capture and storage also receive considerable attention in many other countries around the world” Mr. Enoksen said in his opening speech.

It is the hope of the Norwegian government that such Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology will reduce emissions from fossil fuels dramatically, allowing the world to meet its increasing energy needs without harming the environment.

Norway is closely linked to the EU’s energy market through the European Economic Area Agreement, and has a formalised and regular energy dialogue with its EU partners.

Read the full transcript of Minister of Oil and Energy Odd Roger Enoksen’s speech here.

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