Environment News Service
May 9, 2005


OSLO, Norway, May 9, 2005 (ENS) -- The Norwegian Government has
appointed a commission to consider how Norway could become a low
greenhouse gas emitting society. The commission will work on the basis
that the national emissions of greenhouse gases should be reduced by
50 to 80 percent by 2050 to help limit global climate change.

Jorgen Randers professor of policy analysis at the Norwegian School of
Management will head the seven member commission.

"By establishing this commission, the government wants to get a better
understanding of the changes that are necessary for Norway to become a
low emissions society within a 50 year period, said Environment
Minister Knut Arild Hareide.

The commission's main task will be to outline different scenarios for
how the national emissions can be reduced by 50 to 80 percent within
the next 50 years by developing and utilizing new technologies.

The commission will assess economic costs and other consequences
attached to the different scenarios. In doing so, the commission will
also compare Norway's situation with other countries.

The commission will work in close dialogue with the civil society, and
experts will be included in the process. The commission's conclusions
are to be presented in an official report at the end of 18 months.
Based on the commission's conclusions, the government will initiate a
process aimed at outlining long-term national goals for emissions of
greenhouse gases, Hareide said.

Hareide recognizes that fossil fuels will dominate the world's power
generation for years, so, he said, a sustainable energy policy must
include options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil energy
production and use.

Norway is a major producer and exporter of energy. In 2003, the
country was the third largest net oil exporter in the world behind
Saudi Arabia and Russia, and second largest net exporter of natural
gas to continental Europe.

Nearly two-thirds of the country's total primary energy consumption is
met by hydroelectric power, with oil, natural gas and coal accounting
for the remainder. Norway also generates limited amounts of power from
wind and other renewables, which amount to less than one percent.

Addressing delegates to an energy seminar on April 26, Hareide said
Norway has unique and positive experiences with capture and storage of
the main greenhouse gase, carbon dioxide (CO2).

"As a small country, our national efforts to reduce the emissions of
greenhouse gases will have minimal impacts on the global climate,"
Hareide acknowledged, but he said that by taking an active role in
developing technologies for carbon capture and storage, Norway might
be able to promote solutions that other countries and regions can

"Hopefully, this could help make a much needed difference -- even in a
global perspective," he said.

Norway has experience with geological storage of CO2. Since 1996,
about one million metric tons of CO2 have been stored annually from
the offshore gas field Sleipner West.

"This single project equals two percent of our national emissions of
greenhouse gases. Even on a global scale, this represents a unique
project on aquifer CO2 storage and the sole ongoing geological storage
experience of that time scale," Hareide told the seminar delegates.

There are unique possibilities to use CO2 for enhanced oil recovery on
the Norwegian continental shelf, the minister said.

"Injection of CO2 to enhance recovery of fossil fuels could become a
key storage opportunity, as it might generate revenues that offset
parts of CO2 capture and transportation costs," Hareide said. "By
using CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, not only the future carbon price,
but also the price on oil and gas, will determine the economics of
carbon capture and storage projects."

The minister proposes that Norway could receive carbon dioixde from
other countries. "Studies have indicated that all the CO2 emissions
from Europe over the next 200 years could be injected and stored in
oil wells and aquifers in the North Sea," he told delegates.
Hareide believes that Norway might become a recipient of CO2 from
other countries around the North Sea.

"To explore the possibilities for such a co-operation, the Ministry of
Petroleum and Energy has taken an initiative towards the North Sea
countries and the European Union. We hope to intensify this co-
operation in the years to come," the minister said.

In 2004, the Norwegian government established a national fund of 240
million euros (US $307 million) to stimulate the development of
technologies for CO2 capture and storage related to the use of natural
gas. Combined with other measures, this fund will enable Norwegian
government and private companies to reinforce the development and
possible use of carbon capture and storage technologies.

By being at the forefront of the technological development, both
industry and research communities might find new business
opportunities, says Hareide, but he emphasizes that all possible
precautions should be taken to ensure that the environment is not
harmed by the carbon capture and storage operations.

"We have to take all possible precautions to make sure that the marine
environment is not adversely affected," Hareide said, "On this, as on
all other environmental issues, the precautionary principle should be
our guiding principle."

"We have to be confident that the method of storage is safe and that
the risk of leakage is minimal," he said. "But we should bear in mind
that the CO2 is likely to be stored in geological structures that have
contained oil and gas securely for millions of years."

"We also have to take into account that the alarming effects of
climate change are clearly starting to show," Hareide said. "With that
knowledge in mind, we have to decide what is the best solution for the
environment as a whole."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2005