Saturday, September 6, 2008

Europe to get more gas

Commission to support Norwegian commitments

The European Commission will nod the government subsidies in the Norwegian case for the development of Carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a means to curb emissions from coal power plants by burying carbon dioxide (CO2) deep underground, according to European energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

Outlining the Norway’s efforts, Norwegian Energy Minister Marie Haga Aslaug told journalists, “We have three concrete projects in Carbon capture and storage in the pipeline and it has been very useful to us to have a close cooperation with the Commission on these projects. Also in order to create an understanding that for the time being government funding is required in order to make these projects work out.”

Aiming to make the technology commercially viable, the Norwegian minister urged “some countries are willing to put governmental funding in a substantial way,” adding, “I am looking forward to the day when we have the technological breakthrough where we can have co2 not only from gas powered power plants but also coal powered power plants.”

“I’m optimistic that we’ll get a yes for a notification which is made for the test centre,” she said. Commenting on the subject at the joint press conference with Norwegian minister, Piebalgs told journalists, “I believe that state aid is eligible if it’s scrutinised according to the rules. It (may be) given as much as necessary if it corresponds to the conditions.” “We need this technology not only for the EU but also globally and Norwegian efforts are very much appreciated,” he said.

Commending the “high ambitions of the colleagues on the Continent,” about renewable energy sources, the Norwegian minister spoke of windmills saying, “We have decided to establish more formal cooperation in this field. The potential is huge but it’s still some years ahead of us.”

“Floating windmills which could be placed on any continental shelf and we see a great potential from floating windmills. As of now, we do not have the technology, it has to be developed and there are major issues that have to be resolved in terms of grid so we are speaking of the future. But I think it’s very important to develop all possibilities in the renewable fields,” added Norwegian minister.

Replying to a question “on gas export,” she said, “In the years to come we will have a decline in oil production but we will have an increase in gas production over the next decade and obviously the market on the Continent, first and foremost will receive that gas.”

Negating the possibility of building new gas pipelines to the European continent, the Norwegian minister emphatically told journalists, “Pipeline capacity will never stop our supply.” Norway is the second biggest gas supplier to the EU with 18 percent, compared to Russia with 23 percent.

Depending on developments with Russia, Piebalgs hoped that with projected deliveries of up to 125 to 140 billion cubic metres of gas by 2018-2020, “that could mean that, by that time, Norway could be the biggest supplier of gas for the European Union.”

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