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Norwegian government welcomes Grenland location of gas innovation center

November 1, 2002, 00:00 CET

In its white paper on the gas sector published today, Friday 1 November, the Norwegian government welcomes Hydros initiative to establish a national center for gas research and technology development in the Grenland region.

"This is great news for developing the market for the industrial use of gas in Norway," says Hilde Tonne, head of department in Hydro Energy. "Hydro has worked to unite the main gas research and technology development participants in a concerted action at national level. The government is now making funds available. We are looking forward to further backing for the project and more detail once it has been discussed in the Norwegian parliament," she adds.

It was at Hydro’s energy seminar in Bergen last year that President and CEO Eivind Reiten launched his proposal to establish a national gas innovation center in Grenland. The proposal was viewed in the context of the challenges facing Norway in terms of international environmental commitments, the competitiveness of Norwegian industry, the energy balance and, not least, securing the value of the country’s natural resources. The government sees Hydro’s initiative to set up an industry driven gas innovation center as a positive step, and believes that it will become a significant factor in the drive to promote technology development and commercial solutions in the gas sector.

"The Grenland location of such a center is the correct one for several reasons," says Hilde Tonne. "The region already constitutes an extensive industrial cluster, and is an important joint location for industry and a considerable research environment. Moreover, the location is ideal from the point of view of using the gas in the most populous areas of Norway," says Tonne who was in charge Hydro’s preparations for the innovation center. Boosting gas technology development paves the way for the further development of existing industry, new sustainable activity and, in addition, new opportunities for specialist suppliers.

During the past year, Hydro has discussed the setting up of an innovation center with a number of major interests. The center will, by accessing a network of commercial users, suppliers and specialists, be able to benefit from the facilities and expertise of Norway’s R&D milieus rather than compete with them. It will, instead, make better use of them. Synergy effects and economies of scale are anticipated by means of greater cooperation between participants and the running of a greater number of technology projects. "It is important that the center is made a national one to achieve the appropriate position of influence. We are hoping that this will be the outcome of the parliamentary process to be completed in March or April of next year," says Tonne.

As part of the process to develop Grenland into a central gas technology location, the government further proposes that a state agency for environmentally friendly gas technology, or state-run innovation company, be located in the region. That such a company be placed close to industry’s innovation center for gas, was described as advantageous in the white paper, and will provide a boost for the overall national gas program. "This is in line with our recommendation for a state-run innovation company to distribute funds to promote gas technology development and innovation," says vice president Elizabeth Baumann Ofstad in Hydro Energy.

She was a member of the publicly appointed gas technology committee that will submit its report to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in March 2002. "The funds the government are now announcing fall far short of what the committee considered necessary for the desired development. But I assume that the government’s mobilizing of resources is the first step in a major long-term commitment," she adds.