USA: Opening of the Norwegian Pavilion at OTC
Ladies and Gentlemen
40 years ago – in 1973 – the year the Crown Prince and I was born, my father in law, Crown Prince Harald at that time, opened the very first pavilion of Norwegian exhibitors at OTC. Today, it is a great pleasure for the Crown Prince and myself to do the same. For 40 years now, Norway has benefited from OTC as an arena for exchanging best practices, new technology and innovative ideas.
In 1973, Norway was still a young oil nation. To a large extent we owe our venture into the industry to our American collaborators and their expertise. Americans had discovered the first major oil field on the Norwegian continental shelf just a few years earlier, in 1969.
Only 18 months after the initial discovery, we were able to produce oil from newly constructed platforms in the North Sea. But because Norway began its offshore venture from scratch, we started off relying heavily on the knowledge accumulated over many years here in the state of Texas.
And since then we have come a long way. The petroleum industry now accounts for about one quarter of Norway’s GDP.
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 Norwegian pavilion ever. 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.
We need cutting edge technology to meet today’s challenges – which are different than 40 years ago: As a function of a growing population and the efforts to lift more people out of poverty, the global energy demand will continue to increase. At the same time, the production and consumption of energy is the largest source of CO2 emissions.
We need to meet both these challenges simultaneously.
We need our energy production to be less carbon intensive and we need to use the energy more efficiently.
As I mentioned, the state of Texas – and the US in general – has been of invaluable importance to Norway through all these years since we became an oil nation.
In 2010, we were – in return – able to assist the US. More than 30 Norwegian companies were involved in the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
This is only one sign of the fact that Norway and Texas are – and will remain – close friends and good business partners.
Our close relationship is also illustrated by the fact that we find close to 10 000 Norwegians and more than 150 Norway-related companies in the Greater Houston area. This is the largest Norwegian community outside of Scandinavia.
For several reasons, 2013 is an important year for Norway in Houston. In addition to Norway’s four-decade-long OTC participation, this year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Norwegian Seamen’s Church - you have all been able to taste the delights from the desserts from the Norwegian delegation that have been baking all morning, I think, to give us desserts - and the 40th anniversary of the Southwestern Chapter of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce.
Congratulations to you all.
I hereby declare the 2013 OTC Norwegian pavilion open.