A meeting with Commissioner Andris Piebalgs was called off by Norway’s energy minister on 30 August, officially because of important national budgetary discussions.
Despite the meeting’s cancellation, however, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Odd Roger Enoksen and Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs agreed to establish a joint energy cooperation group at senior official level in a telephone conversation on 30 August.
The group’s primary task will be to draft a joint paper on security of supply and demand in the oil and gas sector for the next meeting, due to take place in the first half of 2007.
Norway supplies between 10 and 18% of EU oil demand and around 15% of its natural gas.
“Our dialogue has been excellent for years, but this way we hope to make it more results-oriented,” Piebalgs said in a statement. The meeting with Enoksen has been postponed until 15 September, the Commission said.
It is not the first time that Enoksen has cancelled a Brussels appointment – he did so already in March this year. Now as then, the explanation was an overcrowded schedule. But, although the minister is a busy man, his decision can also be viewed from a different perspective. Enoksen is a member of the Centre Party, which is strongly opposed both to EU membership and membership of the European Economic Area.
“This is a serious missed opportunity,” said Paal Frisvold from the Bellona foundation, an environmental organisation with headquarters in Norway. “When you are a European colony, you don’t miss such a chance,” Frisvold added, in reference to the country’s EEA membership which makes it subject to EU decisions, without the political clout that comes with full membership.
Frisvold also said that the budgetary discussions will be crucial too, as they will decide whether Norway will finance the capture and underground storage of CO2 from gas-fired power stations.