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Norwegian-United Kingdom Co-Ordinating Committee

Volume 930: debated on Wednesday 27 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will report on his recent official visit to Norway.

I visited Norway on 14th to 16th April as the guest of the Norwegian Government and had meetings there with the Prime Minister and with the Minister of Industry, Mr. Gjerde. The joint communiqué issued by Mr. Gjerde and me after our meetings—of which I attach the text—makes it clear that we reached agreements on a number of important matters relating to our common interests in offshore oil and gas and laid the foundation for continuing co-operation which will be of real benefit to our two countries.FROM THE MEETING OF THE UNITED KINGDOM/NORWEGIAN CO-ORDINATING COMMITTEE IN OSLO ON 14TH AND 15TH APRIL 1977The first meeting of the Norwegian/United Kingdom Co-ordinating Committee to foster closer co-operation between the two countries on North Sea oil and gas matters was held in Oslo on 14th and 15th April 1977.The discussions were held under the joint chairmanship of Mr. Bjartmar Gjerde, Norwegian Minister for Industry, and Mr. Tony Benn, United Kingdom Secretary of State for Energy.The Committee was formed following meetings in London in September 1976 between Mr. Benn and Mr. Gjerde. It is intended that it should meet twice a year alternately in Norway and the United Kingdom.The agenda covered a wide range of subjects and these are dealt with under the headings set out below.1.

World oil situation

Under this heading the Ministers reviewed the general energy situation against the background of OECD and national supply and demand forecasts.

2. Progress on median line fields

The Committee took note of the progress made in the development of the three median line fields—frigg, Statfjord and Murchison. A unitisation agreement for the Frigg field—the first of its kind in the world—has been signed by the Norwegian and United Kingdom authorities. Unitisation negotiations between the two Governments for the Statfjord and Murchison fields are progressing well.

3. Industrial opportunities

The Ministers reviewed discussions between officials of the Norwegian Ministry of Industry and the United Kingdom Department of Energy on developing the procedures to give Norwegian and United Kingdom industry the opportunity to win orders, on a competitive and non-discriminatory basis, for supplies for offshore oil and gas operations throughout the North Sea.

They agreed, in conformity with the traditional policies of the Norwegian and British Governments of not discriminating against third countries, that the industries in their respective countries, should have a really fair opportunity to tender for contracts. This also applies to the development and operation of median line fields.

Accordingly, the Ministers asked officials to examine how these joint objectives might be achieved in practice beginning with the median fields.

The Co-ordinating Committee reiterates that the traditional non-discriminatory shipping policy pursued by the two Governments also applies to shipping services for offshore oil and gas operations throughout the North Sea.

4. Encouraging contacts between Norwegian and United Kingdom companies

The Co-ordinating Committee welcomed the prospect of greater co-operation between Norwegian and British Industry in the offshore sector.

The Ministers emphasised their determination to secure from oil and gas developments the maximum industrial and employment benefits.

They recognised that the establishment of joint ventures was primarily for the commercial interests concerned. Both sides agreed, however, that to the extent possible, they should seek to facilitate such commercial initiatives.

5. Gas Gathering Pipeline Systems

The Co-ordinating Committee decided to establish a sub-committee on gas gathering pipelines. The sub-committee will look into the possibilities of a joint scheme for gas gathering. The British and Norwegian bodies investigating on the respective Continental Shelves the possibilities of gas gathering systems will be instructed to try to harmonise their approaches to the collection of data. The first meeting of the sub-committee will be held in London in June 1977.

6. Co-operation between National Oil Companies

The Co-ordinating Committee discussed the possibilities of further contact between BNOC and Statoil, and is of the opinion that areas of co-operation could best be defined through direct contacts between the two organisations.

7. Safety, including Research and Development and Emergencies

Ministers decided to establish a special Working Group to bring forward proposals for co-operation in the field of safety, safety related research and emergency preparedness and to facilitate and develop the exchange of information.

Ministers placed great emphasis on the need for close collaboration within the context of existing official contacts on environmental, operational and security matters, on measures to deal with accidents and other emergencies offshore.

8. Conclusion

The Ministers agreed that the first meeting of the Co-ordinating Committee had provided an extensive and valuable exchange of views and information. They expressed their determination to secure a regular and systematic follow-up through the Co-ordinating Committee. The next ministerial meeting will be held in Britain in the spring of 1978.