Europe counts on the “Norwegian factor”
Oslo. The international race for resources is intensifying the search for a clean, secure, and affordable energy supply for Europe as emerging nations like China are wielding an ever greater influence on the global energy market. At the same time, the constantly rising demand for raw materials is coupled with the difficulty of declining resources. These issues serves as the backdrop to an international energy conference attended by high-ranking representatives from the political, business and research communities in Oslo today on a possible “European formula” for Europe’s energy supply and, in particular, Norway’s role in this energy supply.
Guest speakers invited by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) included the former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Ola Borten Moe, the Norwegian Minister for oil and energy. They gave their view of the central challenges and solutions in developing closer cooperation between Norway and Germany – in the production of crude oil and natural gas and in industrial cooperation. Former German Chancellor Schröder said he firmly believed in the innovative power of closer Norwegian-German cooperation: “With their expertise and experience in research and technology, Norway and Germany can play a leading role in enhancing resources extraction worldwide – both ecologically and economically – by engaging in joint projects”. The former Chancellor called for German and Norwegian energy companies to cooperate more closely with Russia: “For Russia and Norway are strategic partners for the Europeans. We need them more than ever as the energy supply faces major new challenges”. In addition, it made sense to forge stronger political ties between Russia and Europe. “For us the goal must be the modernization of the economy, but, more importantly, of society in Russia,” Schröder said. “We know that Russia is not always an easy partner. But we need this partnership because it is the only way to ensure stability and security on our continent.” With the ratification of the agreement on the course of the sea border and the cooperation in the Barents Sea, a difficult chapter in relations between Norway and Russia had been resolved, he added. Increasingly, the Barents Sea offered a possible economic but also political bridge for closer cooperation between Norway, Russia and the EU in future.
Ola Borten Moe also emphasized the great potential of deeper cooperation between the two nations in the energy sector: “Germany is a very important partner for Norway within the energy sector. We aim to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries in the time to come.”
North Sea is an important future region – Wintershall in Norway
Rainer Seele, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall, outlined the strategic background to Wintershall’s increased activities in Norway to the energy sector. The company is planning to intensify its cooperation along the entire valued added chain in Norway – similar to its long-standing and successful cooperation in Russia – from the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas at the source, to its transport and storage, to marketing activities to European customers. Together with Gazprom, Wintershall produces natural gas in Siberia, in some cases from very complex deposits, and markets natural gas in Germany and Europe via the joint venture WINGAS. Wintershall is also participating in infrastructure projects such as the Nord Stream Baltic Sea pipeline and the planned South Stream pipeline.
In Norway Wintershall has expanded its activities considerably since the Norwegian subsidiary Wintershall Norge was founded in 2005. With over 40 licenses and more than 20 operatorships, Wintershall is already one of the largest license holders on the Norwegian continental shelf. The company invested about half of its global exploration budget in the Norwegian continental shelf in 2011. Wintershall Norge is planning to invest more than a billion euros by 2015 and is striving for a production level of 50,000 BOE per day in the Norwegian and British sectors of the North Sea. “Norway is a crucial energy partner for the EU – and especially for Germany,” Seele summarized. “Europe will only find a sustainable formula for the future energy supply with Norway’s help – for an energy supply that is as clean as it is reliable and affordable.”
Natural gas – Europe’s bridge into the renewables era
According to the discussion participants at the event, including Kristin Skogen Lund, President of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, and Roar Flathen, Chairman of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, in this context natural gas will be a key factor in the development of a European energy formula. In view of the rising demand for energy, the EU and Germany will continue to rely on fossil fuels in the coming decades. Furthermore, natural gas will play a decisive role in the energy supply of the future due to its environmental benefits compared to other fossil fuels like coal. In contrast to nuclear and coal-fired power stations, gas-fired power stations can also respond flexibly to fluctuations in electricity generation from renewable energies. For Rainer Seele one thing is clear: “Natural gas makes the energy mix for Europe reliable, affordable and easier for the climate to digest. However, that also requires a clear commitment from the EU to natural gas, and thus to imports from Norway and Russia.”
More information on the Internet at www.wintershall.com