When the biannual Offshore Northern Seas conference is being held in Stavanger, Norway, it is not uncommon to see a collection of people from this province make the trip.
The event was held from Aug. 27-31 and included representatives from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the local offshore regulator and the oil and gas business community.
In addition to taking in the conference event, the provincial delegation — more than 32 people representing 12 separate entities — also accepted an invitation from Statoil to tour parts of its Norwegian operations. The tour included a stop at a research and development facility in Bergen, Norway, and one of Statoil’s offshore platforms.
“The primary reason is to learn. Statoil offered us an opportunity to come and participate in some sessions put on by their folks who headed up their (research and development) operation and the particular focus, from our perspective, was on enhanced oil recovery,” said Max Ruelokke, CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB).
“They describe the enhanced oil recovery potential for the Norwegian continental shelf as being ... bigger than any new, individual project that’s ever been discovered, because there’s so much potential. And while we don’t have anything like the potential here that’s on that shelf, it’s very important for us as well.”
In that sense, Ruelokke said, it was a good thing for delegates to see what Statoil is doing to enhance the amount of oil its getting from existing offshore developments.
“Even if you look at a field like Hibernia that has the potential to produce right now, say 1.2 or 1.3 billion (barrels of oil), if you can just improve that by 10 per cent that’s another 150 million barrels of oil,” Ruelokke said.
Developing enhanced oil recovery techniques for Hibernia is the focus of the $11.8-million gift of research funding made in October to Memorial University of Newfoundland by the Hibernia Management Development Corp.
Meanwhile, Minister of Natural Resources Jerome Kennedy and Natural Resources staff members also took part in the tours, adding them to existing plans to attend the Stavanger conference.
“What was set up with this Norwegian trip were meetings with Statoil, where they took us through their research and development facility in Bergen and showed us what they were doing,” Kennedy said. “We met with the offshore safety board, their equivalent of the offshore safety board, and I got to meet a lot of the players in the business.”
The minister said his interest was in work around Arctic exploration and development, “and of course you’ve got that very sensitive balancing of exploration versus protecting of the environment,” he said.
Kennedy described his attending the conference — having regular representation from this province at the Norwegian event — as an aid in decision making and a way for Newfoundland and Labrador to also maintain a presence on the international stage, and encourage companies to consider exploration in local waters.
Delegates to the Offshore Northern Seas conference in 2010 were given a similar tour by Statoil, albeit looking at a different research and development facility.
As for cost, Ruelokke said the Statoil tour added little to the overall cost planned by the board for the trip for he and board member David Wells. Ruelokke said the addition was only to cover a flight to Bergen and hotel for a couple of nights.