The UK is expected to become a net importer of gas from 2005, with Norway as one of the major potential suppliers. BP's proposal will focus on providing new cross-border linkages between existing pipelines to ensure - competitive, secure and flexible transportation for significant volumes of Norwegian gas.
Speaking in his role as a member of the UK-Norway North Sea Co-operation Workgroup, which issued its first major progress report today at the Offshore Northern Seas Conference in Stavanger, BP Group Vice President for the North Sea, Scott Urban, said: 'We are already seeing unprecedented levels of co-operation between the UK and Norway aimed at extending the efficient development of North Sea resources. Our proposal takes this to another level, making a major and exciting contribution to the security and diversity of future gas supplies to the UK.'
The UK Minister for Energy, Brian Wilson, in welcoming the announcement commented: 'This announcement from BP is a very welcome signal that we are in a new era of co-operation between the UK and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea. I wish BP every success in developing their plans further'.
BP said that the existing UK infrastructure will have significant excess capacity available by 2005, more than sufficient to meet the needs of Norwegian gas suppliers, as well as continuing to provide transportation facilities for potential new oil and gas developments in UK waters. Maintaining the viability of the built infrastructure is also vital for the transportation of future feedstock supplies to Scotland's east coast petrochemicals industry.
The excess capacity in the existing pipeline systems would allow enhancements to be made at a low cost. 'Linking existing infrastructure could meet the anticipated supply of new gas from Norway for the medium term,' suggested Mr. Urban. 'After that, additional new pipeline capacity may be required, depending on the needs of the gas market.'
BP's proposal would initially build on the close co-operation already achieved through the oil industry's UK-Norway Co-operation Workgroup, and bring together the UK and Norwegian governments, gas suppliers, and pipeline owners to develop detailed plans. The initial phase of this work is expected to be completed within three months.
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