Norway’s Emission Reduction Plan Was to Give Offshore Oil Rigs Clean Electricity

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From the “Wait a second. What?” files comes the story of Norway’s failing attempt to fight global warming by providing offshore gas and oil rigs with clean electricity.

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Norway has been attempting to fight global warming by, among other ways, providing rigs drilling for oil and natural gas deposits off its shores with clean energy. However, the country recently hit a snag when a study revealed the costs of providing the rigs with the clean power would be far more costly than originally thought.

The rigs currently run on generators located offshore, which burn the fossil fuels most of the rigs are drilling for. The plan was to provide the rigs with energy from the mainland via cables. A study found that reducing the CO2 output from the rigs’ power supplies would cost about $299 per ton of carbon dioxide saved. In contrast, a credit for a ton of carbon dioxide is sold at about $35 on the EU carbon trading market.

Retrofitting the existing oil rigs with electricity from the mainland was part of a larger plan to reduce the country’s carbon emissions, which are over its quotas. Aaslaug Haga, the Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister, said: “I can’t hide the fact that I would have preferred a report with a different content. But I have to make it crystal clear that emissions from the Norwegian continental shelf will fall. And I’m sure that electrification will be a part of the answer.”

The move could actually reduce Norway’s carbon emissions by quite a bit. The oil and gas production industry, and particularly the offshore drilling stations, are massive energy consumers in Norway. The Scandinavian country is the world’s fifth largest export of oil, and the industry produces about a quarter of the nation’s carbon emissions.

The country has not yet decided whether to abandon its goals of retrofitting the existing platforms, but future oil and gas fields will most likely be powered from the mainland.

I think Norway may have become slightly confused about the whole point of clean energy. I can’t be the only one noticing the inherent irony in using green energy to produce fossil fuels. While it’s a good thing that Norway is attempting to reduce its carbon footprint, this sort of thing makes it seem like it’s more about staying under a quota than real concern over the environment. All attempts to reduce carbon emissions, particularly from such a large emitter like the energy industry, should be commended. Reducing those emissions so you can keep producing large amounts of fossil fuels with slightly less guilt, though? Not so much.

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