Rúni M. Hansen
It has been an interesting few years for our industry and interests in the Arctic. Many deals have been done, new areas have been opened and discoveries have been made. The whole industry is positioning itself for the future. We are dealing with complex regulatory and stakeholder concerns. We are driving technology to enable us to develop Arctic resources, safely and economically. At the same time we see that development is going slower many would have thought only a short time ago. And this might be a good thing.
The world's eyes are on the Arctic region - a region that signifies large opportunities and resources, but is also a unique and harsh operating environment.
The Arctic is also a region that ranges from ice-bound areas, to ice-free areas such as the southern Barents Sea. It's not a question about one-size fits all, not for our industry and not for the communities within the Arctic.
Our task is to carry out our operations in collaboration with industry, government, regulators, and not least the communities our activity affects – providing shared value. But we in industry must not mistake legal permissions for permanent access. In a new frontier, access must be earned – again and again.
This is no easy task, and the Arctic poses specific challenges with regards to distance, weather, logistics, environmental stewardship and technology needs. Our strategy is to approach this in a stepwise manner – learning from each step and taking that experience with us when we plan future operations. But why be there at all, one might ask?
Statoil is working across the Arctic because we believe its resources will be a critical source of energy for a growing world. Economic growth and rising standards of living will result in a more than 30 per cent increase in global energy demand over the next 30 years. In order to replace existing production and meet increases in future demand, the world will need an "all of the above" energy strategy – one that includes the Arctic resources.
But it's not only a question of filling an increasing demand. Most of the fields that will produce in 2030 and 2040 have not yet been discovered. In fact we have been producing more oil than we have discovered every year since the early 1980s. It is a huge task for our industry to fill the gap that is certain to appear.
2012 and 2013 has seen some areas move ahead and others pause. This is the nature of our industry. Rising costs and technical complexity also means we take our time to fully evaluate the risks and rewards.
This gives us time to do things right. There is no room for mistake in the Arctic.
Rúni M. Hansen is Vice President and Head of Statoil's Arctic Unit, Norway.