In his opening speech, the minister pointed out that oil recovery on the Norwegian continental shelf is 46 per cent, which is high compared to the global offshore average of 22 per cent.
«However, even with this high rate, we still leave more than half of our resources in the ground» said Mr Lien.
Raising the Norwegian recovery rate by just one per cent means some 300 bn NOK in extra sales value. Improved oil recovery has, therefore, been a matter of national importance for successive governments.
«Just a one percent increase in the recovery rate would finance an additional 75 new operas identical to the one in Oslo» he said.
A consortium of three partners – University of Stavanger, IRIS and Institute for energy technology (IFE) – won the centre in a national competition last year. Scientific quality was the main criterion, but another of Stavanger’s strong points was its close collaboration with the oil and gas industry.
«Close contact with industry is crucial for this centre. That will ensure relevant research, and this is why Stavanger is the perfect location for this kind of collaboration,» said the oil and energy minister in his speech.
The minister acknowledged the importance of researching into renewable energy solutions as well as fossil ones, but stressed that both are necessary.
«Oil and gas will have to cover a large portion of the world’s energy needs for decades to come. This is the case even when renewable energy is expected to increase its share of the energy mix.»
The cabinet minister expects great results from the centre, both in terms of scientific papers and educating a new generation of scientists through master and PhD programmes.
«It is usually the scientists that are the real heroes of this industry,» concluded Mr Lien.
The Research Council of Norway and other policy makers greeted the new centre in front of an audience of some 250 representatives of industry, government and academia.
A scientific symposium with participants from cooperating universities in Europe, USA and Japan followed the opening ceremony.