According to a Reuters’ report, Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru said the country is seeing big interest from energy firms in developing offshore wind farms in its ongoing licensing round and may offer additional acreage in 2023. “The interest is huge and I’m really looking forward to the developments,” she said, speaking in an interview at the Reuters Events: Global Energy Transition conference.
Some 30 companies have expressed interest in obtaining licences after Norway announced plans to award offshore acreage in two locations to companies seeking to set up giant wind turbines. Asked if more acreage could be made available in 2023, Bru said “probably, yes”.
“We’ve given an assignment to the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) to start the process of finding and proposing new areas for development. We think that’s probably going to take around two years,” she said.
The high interest in offshore wind comes as Norway is seeing declining enthusiasm from oil firms to explore in its Arctic region. “Oil companies were more interested in looking for oil and gas near existing infrastructure, rather than in frontier offshore areas that were on offer in the latest licensing round, and were also thinking about climate risks,” said Bru. “They’re thinking about what will be the developments of climate policy: How quickly will we be moving away from oil and gas? So making sure you have robust (oil) projects is of course important also for them, just like it is for the states,” she said.
However Bru said the country will continue producing oil and gas as long as there is demand. “If we were to stop producing tomorrow … other producing countries would quickly fill that demand again because we produce so little,” she said. “I don’t see the point in Norway not delivering that energy, as long as that demand is there, but it’s important for me to say that we are very prepared for a future where demand will be lower.”
Bru declined to predict whether the price of crude oil, which has doubled since last November, will continue to rise, but said stability was preferable over time. “I don’t think we should wish for a very, very high oil price. We’ve seen what kinds of effects that can have in the long term,” Bru said. “Stable prices are very much more important for the whole world economy and also for us as a producer, so we’ll have to see what happens, but we do know one thing and that is that it’s pretty impossible to predict,” she added.
Norway’s interest in offshore wind will doubtless be welcomed by companies involved in shipbuilding and ship equipment. Those sectors have been hard hit by the impact on oil and gas exploration since the crude price crash in 2014 although many have already targeted the offshore wind sector for their specialist skills and products.