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Petroleum research more important than ever for Norway

The Norwegian Government’s white paper on petroleum activities, presented in June, underscores the importance of research and expertise. The Research Council anticipates that research in this area will escalate.

The white paper on petroleum activities, entitled En næring for framtida – om petroleumvirksomheten (“An Industry for the Future – Norway’s Petroleum Activities”) states how critical research and expertise have been, and still are, for the petroleum sector. The Research Council believes that further augmentation of petroleum research activities is crucial to the continued success of the sector.

“More petroleum research is essential if we are to ensure increased oil recovery while minimising the impact on the environment,” states Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council.

Increased recovery from existing fields
In the white paper, the Government gives priority to increased recovery from existing fields on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. It also considers establishing two new research centres on petroleum, one targeted at increased recovery and another focusing on the Arctic region.

The research centre on increased recovery will be viewed in connection with other research centres in the petroleum area. A key task of the centre will be to develop advanced methods of recovery that make it profitable to exploit immobile oil resources. Immobile oil is oil that cannot be extracted from the pores of reservoirs by injecting water or gas.

A research centre targeting the Arctic region is seen as a source of the new knowledge and new technology that are essential to increasing petroleum activities in the dark, cold northern areas. Long distances from the oil fields to land also present an enormous challenge. Better geological models are needed as well.

The white paper states that an increase in activities in the northern areas is expected, noting that a process will be launched to open up the formerly disputed area in proximity to Russia.

High praise for research centres
According to the white paper, the relevant Centres of Excellence (SFF) and Centres for Research-driven Innovation (SFI) schemes have achieved great success, especially with regard to recruitment and internationalisation.
The Research Council’s Programme on the Optimal Management of Petroleum Resources (PETROMAKS) and the DEMO 2000 Programme were also commended. Both programmes receive a large number of high-quality project proposals each year. “We would like to be able to allocate funding to many more of these applications,” says Mr Hallén.

In the white paper, the Government states that public allocations must go to projects that contribute to the cost-efficient, sustainable recovery of petroleum resources on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
Particular emphasis is placed on the willingness of the supplier community to invest in new technology. Norwegian Offshore & Drilling Engineering (NODE) in southern Norway, a centre that was granted status as a Norwegian Centre of Expertise (NCE) in 2009, receives special mention in the white paper. The centre is implementing a large-scale project that is funded under the Research Council’s PETROMAKS programme.

The white paper highlights the effective cooperation between the industry and the universities and university colleges on access to qualified personnel in connection with research, development and testing of underwater technology, and emphasises how this has enhanced value creation in the industry.

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