Norway's record-high offshore carbon dioxide emissions tax faces the prospect of being increased further as politicians seek ways to ensure that future offshore projects will be powered by electricity from shore.
Ola Elvestuen, the leader of Parliament's Energy Committee and spokesman for energy issues in the Liberal party, told Upstream that a CO2 tax will be a central point in this autumn's discussion covering next year's National Budget.
The budget is due to be presented by the government on 8 October, after which there is likely to be a period of debate in which minority parties seek to influence the final version.
The conservative minority government will depend on support from the Liberal party and the Christian People's party to get a National Budget approved in Parliament.
Both of these parties have said that offshore emissions on the Norwegian Continental Shelf must be reduced.
"The offshore sector represents 25% of Norway's total CO2 emissions. It is necessary that these emissions are reduced. Power from shore is an important measure to achieve this," Elvestuen said.
He added that it was unfortunate that Parliament this spring had to instruct companies to use power from shore for the Utsira High area, which includes the Johan Sverdrup, Gina Krogh, Edvard Grieg and Ivar Aasen fields.
"We want to prevent future processes from ending up the same way. Therefore we need to look at what is necessary to make sure that partners in future field developments go for power from shore. One option is an increase in the CO2 tax, another is to establish a fund to support these projects financially," he said.
Elvestuen explained that land-based industry in Norway has for years had a fund supporting efforts to reduce emissions: "We could do the same thing offshore."
Parliament has committed to reducing Norway's CO2 emissions from 52 million tonnes to 47 million tonnes by 2020. Elvestuen said that his party will enter discussions on the National Budget with the clear aim of putting one of these options in place.
In 2012, the Norwegian government doubled the carbon tax paid by the petroleum industry to NOK 410 ($68) per tonne of CO2 emitted.
A recent study by consultants at IHS for industry body Norwegian Oil & Gas (Norog) concluded that Norway has the world's most stringent climate policy framework in place today.
"The increased CO2 tax, combined with the government's recent reduction of uplift in allowances, are a concern for the industry," the report concluded.