Norwegian oil industry failing to cut CO2

Watchdog warns that emissions per tonne of production likely to increase further

Norway's offshore oil industry is failing to live up to promises to cut its process greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report by the so-called Miljøsok group. Miljøsok is a cooperative body set up in 1995 to improve the oil and gas sector's environmental performance. Its 36 members include government ministers, industry executives and other stakeholders.

At its launch, Miljøsok's aim was to stabilise the industry's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at 40 kilograms per cubic metre (kg/m3) unit of oil produced. After several years of apparent progress, emissions rose sharply in 1998; and projections now suggest emissions will average 60 kg/m3 by 2010.

"We underestimated the costs of reducing these emissions," Odd Raustein of Miljøsok told the Stavanger Aftenblad newspaper. Technological measures are reckoned to cost NKr1,000 (euros 124) or more per tonne of CO2, while taxes on CO2 are currently just over NKr300 per tonne, and are thought likely to halve if Norway's pioneering quota system for greenhouse gases is introduced after 2008 (ENDS Daily 17 December 1999).

Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have also increased after negotiations with the environment ministry on voluntary curbs foundered last year. The offshore oil sector is held responsible for a quarter of Norway's total CO2 emissions, more than road traffic, as well as 58% of VOCs.

Miljøsok notes that the industry's efforts to reduce discharges to water have been more successful; and that even its relatively poor recent showing on CO2 still puts it well ahead of the British and Russian oil industries.

Follow Up:
Norwegian Oil Industry Association, tel: +47 51 84 65 00.

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