ASK THE EXPERTS

UAE, Abu Dhabi 2015 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Tord Lien, Minister of Petroleum and Energy of Norway, on the role of Statoil in the UAE and collaboration between Norway and Abu Dhabi on sustainable production.

Tord Lien
BIOGRAPHY
Tord Lien was appointed Minister of Petroleum and Energy on October 16, 2013. He has been a member of the Norwegian Parliament for the Progress Party since 2005. From 2009 to 2013 he served as Second Vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Education, Research and Church Affairs. From 2005 to 2009, he served as a member of the Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment. He holds a MA in History from the Norwegian University of Technology and Science.

Norway and Abu Dhabi are both in a transitional state, diversifying their economies away from dependence on oil revenues. What similarities exist between the two regions in regards to this shift?

Norway and the UAE are both small countries, but large energy producers. Although the petroleum sector contributes significantly to the national economies, both countries also have a strong focus on renewable energy and carbon capture and storage (CCS). This is particularly evident when it comes to R&D in renewable energy sources. Norway has, together with Iceland, the largest share of renewable energy production—and consumption—in Europe. Nearly all of the electricity in Norway comes from hydropower. Norway and the UAE, with Abu Dhabi in the forefront, are both committed to reducing CO2 in order to mitigate climate change. The two countries collaborate in the major global processes to achieve this goal.

Statoil, Norway's state oil company, is one of the top international oil companies bidding in Abu Dhabi's main onshore oil concessions, as the historic 75-year operations agreement expired in January 2014. What is Statoil's main value-added as a partner in operating the UAE's biggest onshore oilfields?

Statoil is the largest operator on the Norwegian continental shelf and has more than 40 years of experience in developing cutting-edge technology for producing both oil and gas. I believe Statoil can add value to particularly three areas that are of importance to Abu Dhabi; increased oil recovery, gas production, and CCS. Increased oil recovery is important both because it represents enormous value and ensures that natural resources are not wasted. Statoil is already a world leader in increased oil recovery with an average recovery rate of 50%. Thus it can contribute with important technology and experience.

Abu Dhabi plans to spend over $60 billion over the next decade to expand its oil and gas industry and is looking to increase its sustainable oil production capacity from 2.8 million to 3.5 million barrels per day by 2017. What opportunities do you see for further collaboration and between Norway and Abu Dhabi in light of these aims?

The Norwegian petroleum industry has developed world-class technology and expertise. Increased oil recovery is one area that will be crucial in order for Abu Dhabi to reach its ambitious goals. Both Statoil and the world leading Norwegian supply industry can contribute with technology and expertise in this development. I would also like to mention that due to a strong CO2 taxation regime on the Norwegian continental shelf, the Norwegian industry has had a strong economic incentive to research and develop more environmentally friendly technology. This has led to operators and suppliers on the Norwegian continental shelf being world leading when it comes to producing oil and gas in a sustainable manner. I believe this fits with Abu Dhabi's role both as a large energy producer and ambitions to mitigate climate change.

How do you view Norway's and Abu Dhabi's role in leading the transition toward clean energy technology and a more sustainable energy future in the decades to come?

The contribution of small countries like Norway and Abu Dhabi is mainly in the areas of research and technology development, in addition to promoting international cooperation.

Both countries are undertaking focused efforts into this contribution and this is particularly evident when it comes to renewable energy and CCS. In this context, I would like to mention Abu Dhabi's Masdar City as an ambitious initiative in the pursuit of developing sustainable cities. The fact that the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has its headquarters in Abu Dhabi is further proof of these ambitious renewable energy policies.