Commissioner Piebalgs recalls EU’s support to North Sea oil research in a top conference in Norway

September 4, 2006

Brussels, 23 August 2006

"The EU has invested a lot of effort and funds in developing efficient European technologies capable of facing the enormous energy challenges of the North Sea. The success has been remarkable: starting from literally no previous experience at the beginning of the North Sea era, the EEA has become a key global leader in the field of Energy today". This is one of the messages that Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, delivered today to the participants of the Offshore Northern Seas Conference in Stavanger (Norway).

The conference is organised every two years by the Offshore Northern Seas Foundation and represents a focal point for Europe's hydrocarbon and equipment industry. In line with one of this year's themes on alternative resources for bridging the so-called "energy gap" Commissioner Piebalgs addressed the participants with a speech on the energy challenges facing Europe today.

The Commissioner pointed out that Europe has already entered a new energy era with an increasing external dependence and rising competition for global energy resources. The EU's future energy demand will only be met if, in addition to oil and gas, energy efficiency improvements and new and alternative energy resources are developed and if the EU Member States join forces in tackling the energy issue.

The Commissioner reminded the participants that a European strategy for energy has been outlined in the Green Paper on a European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy that was adopted in March this year. The strategy set out in the Green Paper is currently open to a public consultation [1] . The Commission will subsequently present a Strategic EU Energy Review, together with a package of reports and measures in the energy field, which will serve as a blueprint for a new Energy Policy for Europe. The latter will also be preceded by the presentation of an Action Plan on Energy Efficiency at the end of September.

The EU plus Norway (which together with Iceland and Liechtenstein form the European Economic Area, EEA) represent the world's fourth largest hydrocarbon producer, following Russia, the US and Saudi Arabia. The EU has contributed to this success story by supporting research and development in the sector through the Framework Programmes; during the 80s and 90s the EU contributed approximately €1.5 billion to several hundred oil and gas projects. Whereas oil production in the Norwegian Continental Shelf is expected to decline soon, the hydrocarbons potential of Norway's Barents Sea is expected to play a key role in providing security of supply to the EU in the future, notably through developments in the Southern Barents Sea, where the Snohvit (gas) and Goliath (oil) fields were discovered.

[1] See http://ec.europa..eu/energy/green-paper-energy/index_en.htm for further information.

Item source: IP/06/1117 Date: 23/08/2006

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