Official visit to the US
Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have started their five-day official visit to the US, during which they will be travelling to Texas and California. The focus of the first day was on the petroleum industry.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess were greeted by children and adults from the Norwegian Seamens Church upon their arrival in Houston, Texas, on Sunday afternoon. Their official programme started that evening when they attended the Annual OTC Dinner with 1 000 other guests. The dinner marks the kick-off of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), a major energy conference held each year in Houston.
In his speech during the dinner, Crown Prince Haakon emphasised the importance of meeting the great need for energy as part of the effort to raise the standard of living of the worlds poor. He also stressed that this energy must be produced as efficiently and sustainably as possible:
The importance of this conference is highlighted by the fact that 1.3 billion people – still in 2013 – do not have access to electricity. The world needs more energy to develop, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for billions. Oil and gas will remain an important part of the energy mix in the future. At the same time, our climate is showing signs of change that go beyond natural variability.
The OTC is a key event in the petroleum industry, drawing approximately 90 000 participants annually. Since 1969, decision-makers, investors and researchers have come together here to exchange knowledge and engage in scientific discussions. The exhibition area houses displays representing 2 500 companies from 46 countries.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess arrived at the conference site this morning, and spent the first part of the day visiting a number of Norwegian and international booths.
Official opening of the Norwegian pavilion
Crown Princess Mette-Marit undertook the formal opening of the Norwegian pavilion today, 40 years after then Crown Prince Harald did the same. The Crown Princess noted that this year marked 40 years of Norwegian participation at the conference:
Over all these years, OTC has proven to be one of the most valuable meeting points for the Norwegian oil and gas industry. We are proud to be celebrating our 40th annual participation with our largest ever national pavilion. And we are proud of the world-leading technological innovations we saw this morning when we visited some of the Norwegian booths at the exhibition.
The Norwegian pavilion is the largest to date, with representatives of some 60 companies.
Meeting with Governor Rick Perry
There was time in todays busy programme for the Crown Prince and Crown Princess to meet with the Governor of Texas, Mr Rick Perry. Mr Perry has been governor since 2000, when then Governor George W. Bush was elected President of the United States.
In the afternoon, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess visited ExxonMobils research centre in Houston. ExxonMobil is one of the worlds leading oil and gas companies and a major operator on the Norwegian continental shelf. The company also runs the Esso refinery at Slagentangen on mainland Norway.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were given an introduction to the companys activities in general as well as a presentation on the companys oil spill preparedness and activities in the Arctic.
In the evening, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess will attend an official dinner at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston.
Tomorrow, Crown Prince Haakon will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, where he will visit Lockheed Martins aircraft manufacturing plant. Crown Princess Mette-Marit will travel to California, where she will visit the Norwegian Seamens Church in San Francisco.
Congratulations are presented today from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia.
World Heritage at Vega
In 2004, UNESCO inscribed the Vega Archipelago on the World Heritage List. Today His Royal Highness The Crown Prince was in attendance to open the new Vega Archipelago World Heritage Centre – Norway’s first authorised centre of its kind.