British and Norway energy ministers have signed a new agreement over energy co-operation in the North Sea.

Chris Huhne, the UK Secretary of State for at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, has signed the deal covering both oil and gas and renewable energy and carbon capture and storage alongside his Norwegian opposite number Mr Ola Borten Moe, the Norwegian Minister for Petroleum and Energy.

Mr Ola Borten Moe was in London for the meeting which sets joint energy priorities for the future under the umbrella of “One North Sea.”

“Today’s agreement confirms the importance of Norwegian natural gas to UK energy needs as an essential part of our longer-term energy security, and it boosts cooperation on CCS and the development of renewable energy and interconnection,” Huhne declared.

Together the two ministers have pledged to share information on capacity and planning for long term energy supplies up to 2050, which includes energy emissions targets.

Within the oil and gas sector, they have pledged to: “…support the industry in the future development of our oil and gas resources in the North Sea using the best technology available to manage emissions, protect the environment and maximise recovery of resources.”

The agreement underlines Norway’s long-standing role in supplying the UK with gas: “Norwegian gas will continue to be significant resources for UK electricity generation capacity for many years to come,” the agreement says, and: “A continuing major role for gas into the 2020s is consistent with UK emissions targets and with the application of carbon capture and storage  (CCS), gas could retain a major role through to 2050,” the agreement says.

And it could help the UK to manage intermittent supplies from renewable energy resources, complementing the UK’s new nuclear building programme.

Also UK and Norway have pledged to work together to improve oil spill response capability; to exchange information on maximising enhanced oil recovery from mature fields; and to support cooperation between gas system operators which will include information-sharing in emergencies.

The two Ministers have pledged to explore barriers to using existing infrastructure whichever side of the UK/Norway median line it lies – to maximise North Sea recovery.

On renewables, the Ministers have agreed to support efforts to scale up projects, and to support electricity inter-connection between the two countries – which effectively means supporting the North Sea super-grid.

On CCS, the UK and Norway will work on various initiatives including developing “ambitious measures” for a Clean Energy  Ministerial Meeting schedule to take place in London next year, and supporting CCS in developing countries, plus an EU-China near zero emissions coal project.

Image: DECC.