First Minister Salmond Visits Norway
First Minister Alex Salmond will begin a two day visit to Norway tomorrow (Monday) by addressing an international green energy conference in Bergen.
As well as renewables, his visit will also focus on economic opportunities and job creation in the oil and gas and aquaculture industries.
The visit comes against the background of Norway’s increasing economic importance to Scotland – moving from 10th largest export market in 2007 to 6th in 2010 with sales to the country reaching £815 million.
Mr Salmond is a keynote speaker at the renewable energy conference, hosted by Norwegian employers federation Norsk Industri. Other speakers include Norway’s Minister of Environmental Affairs Bård Vegar Solhjell, Hans Blix, former Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs and ex-Director of the International Atomic Energy Association; Dr. Michael Weinhold, CTO (Energy), Siemens and Ståle Tungesvik, Senior VP, Renewable Energy, Statoil.
The First Minister, who will have a meeting with Mr Solhjell at the conference, has been invited to outline Scotland’s ‘renewables revolution’, as the country aims to reach a target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of domestic electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020, while continuing as a net exporter of power.
In Oslo on Tuesday, Mr Salmond will meet with Aker Solutions, AF Group and Norway’s Minister for Oil & Energy Ola Morten Boe – two weeks before the First Minister is to launch an industry strategy for Scotland’s oil and gas industry.
Mr Salmond’s visit comes ahead of Norway’s National Day, on Thursday, when the country’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is due in Shetland for a number of events. This include the official opening of a new museum in Scalloway which will commemorate the ‘Shetland Bus’ organisation that played a key role in supporting the Norwegian resistance during the Second World War. Bruce Crawford, the Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy will represent the Scottish Government at the events in Shetland.
The First Minister said: “Scotland has strong historical, cultural and economic ties to Norway and it has become an increasingly important trading partner over the last four years, rising from our 10th largest export market in 2007 to 6th in 2010 with sales to the country reaching £815 million. At the same time, more than 130 Norwegian companies are operating around 280 subsidiaries in Scotland, with Aker Solutions and Marine Harvest among the major inward investors I will be meeting, to discuss their plans, this week.
“Clearly our two nations have a shared interest in the energy industry – both in the oil and gas and renewables sectors – as well as in the aquaculture industry, and these are the focus of my engagements in Bergen and Oslo. I look forward to building on our existing relationships and exploring new opportunities for collaboration and investment between our governments, agencies and businesses.”
Anne MacColl, chief executive of Scottish Development International added: “Scotland and Norway have strong historical links, which have been cemented by shared expertise and success in areas such as oil & gas and renewables, as well as the seafood industry. We recognise and value Norway as a very important export market for our companies, and this visit will play a critical role in ensuring we fully exploit this potential, and position Scotland firmly as an ideal place with which to do business.
“We’re seeing significant changes in patterns of world trade, and Scottish Development International is working closely with the Scottish Government to build strong links with key markets such as Norway, so that our companies can take full advantage of new and existing opportunities to grow their business.”
Offshore WIND staff, May 14, 2012; Image: scotland