Barents Sea could have global significance

January 4, 2006, 14:30 CET

Developing the Barents Sea as a new oil and gas province will be of global importance says chief executive Helge Lund, who is attending the annual conference of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) in Oslo, today, 4 January.

The main theme of the conference is industrial and commercial development in the far north.

"According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) world energy demand will rise by about 50 per cent before 2030," says Mr Lund.

"More than 80 per cent of this increase will have to be met by fossil fuels. At the same time, there will be a growing dependency on imports in key markets.

"The oil and gas resources in the Barents Sea could play an important role in securing the USA's and Europe's energy supplies for a long time to come."

"I believe that it is also of great national importance that we participate actively in developing the Barents Sea's oil and gas resources, in both Norwegian and Russian sectors.

"We would be able to set technological as well as environmental standards. We need to use solutions which ensure coexistence between the fishing industry and the petroleum business."

Mr Lund stressed that the Statoil-operated Snøhvit development is creating much activity and optimism in Hammerfest and western Finnmark county. Roughly 13,000 people have so far been involved in work at the Hammerfest LNG plant for gas liquefaction at Melkøya. Of these, 3,500 people hail from the three most northerly Norwegian counties.

"Statoil has been a pioneer in the Barents Sea and we want to play a central role in the further development of the far north and the northerly parts of the Norwegian Sea," says Mr Lund. "We hope that the government will arrange for a high level of activity in the time ahead."

"Norway and Russia share an interest in developing new markets for their resources.

"Being neighbours in the north is one of several prime motives for finding industrial collaborative solutions in the far north and realising common goals to open up the Barents Sea as a new European oil and gas province."

Snøhvit is the first field development in the Barents Sea and will be the world's most northerly facility for gas liquefaction when deliveries start in 2007.