Norwegian ambassador, Lars Nordrum, participating at a session on JCPOA and Energy Geopolitics hosted by Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations Website (SCFR), said on August 5, 2018, that Norway is known in the world not only for its oil resources but also because of housing the world’s largest pension fund and development aid programs.
According to him, the Norwegian Retirement Fund absorbs oil revenues and helps the country’s economy by macro investment, including investment in various economic and development spheres, such as assistance to 9,000 small domestic companies.
Trade and politics are apart
On Oslo’s view on the role of energy in political and economic equations, Nordrum said that Norway pays particular attention to the security of consumer countries and that his country is the third-largest gas exporter in the world, supplying about 25% of Europe’s demand. He added that all of Norway’s gas is shipped to Europe while his country supplies 30% to 40% of gas consumption in countries such as Britain, Germany, etc.
“In recent years, oil has been used as a political leverage all over the world, but Norway’s foreign policy does not intend to use energy as a political clout,” he continued, adding that “In fact, Norway is not willing to tie up trade with politics. Rather, it helps other countries in the management of their energy resources.”
The future of Iran-Norway relations in the energy sector
On Iran-Norway cooperation in the field of energy, Nordrum said that Norwegian companies started their cooperation with the Iranian oil and gas industry since the 1980s. These companies have invested not only in the oil and gas industry but also in other related industries. According to him, such cooperation still continues, while a large number of Norwegian oil and gas corporations started their activities in Iran after JCPOA was concluded and resulted in a desirable optimism in this regard.
On the transfer of technology from Norway to Iran, he said that this has been going on for three decades, but it has declined to do so since the imposition of sanctions against Tehran. However, he said, hopes were raised after JCPOA, while some Norwegian companies came to Iran and continued their cooperation. Nordrum stressed that his country and its government believe there is no barrier to the transfer of their energy technology to Iran.
Referring to Norway’s stance on US withdrawal from JCPOA, the ambassador said: “Norway is subject to EU law. Therefore, Oslo’s commitment to JCPOA must continue.”
Energy developments tend to change from strategic to geopolitics
SCFR’s Director General, Dr Abdul Reza Faraji-Rad, also speaking at the meeting, talked about the significance of energy in the contemporary era and said: “energy development in today’s world is taking place very quickly, as one can say that these developments tend to change from strategic to geopolitics.”
“There was a time when the Persian Gulf oil had strategic importance for the United States, so much that all American industries would have been in trouble if the region’s oil had not been exported to the US. But today, if Saudi’s Aramco oil is not shipped to the United States, American industry would not undergo any significant problem. Rather, the US replaces the Saudi oil with its own oil production. Now, America is one of the major energy exporters in the world, including to Europe,” he explained.
Iran’s former ambassador to Norway also talked about the impact of oil on regional and global powers’ games and said: “Nowadays, energy is gaining geopolitical significance; that is, energy is largely politicized and the world countries are looking for their own interests; that is, energy is currently playing a role in political fields, including weakening rivals or winning elections. In the same vein, US President Donald Trump, forcefully threatens OPEC to lower oil prices, because if OPEC prices rise, the price of gas in the United States will increase, a development that can have an impact on the upcoming US election; therefore, energy as a geographic variable, plays a role in politics.”
Talking about the US change of viewpoint on energy parameters, Faraji-Rad, who is also university professor of geopolitics said: “For the United States, Persian Gulf’s energy has less strategic importance, but remains economically vital; that is, Washington needs part of the energy revenue of the regional countries so as to reimburse to the US’s export of American goods and weapons. In the same way, the US has gained huge sums of money through sowing discord between Iran and Arab countries.
On the future role of OPEC in the world’s oil equations, Faraji-Rad said that OPEC is in an evolving process and Russians intend to increase their role in oil trades by this evolution. On the other hand, he predicted, Saudi’s role in the future of OPEC will be diminished and Russia will play a greater role in the global energy sector as a major energy producer. According to him, Europeans do not want to be dependent solely on Russian energy but are willing to have diversified sources of energy. Also, they want Iran to remain as an energy exporter to Europe. The pipeline the Europeans consider to transfer Iranian energy to Europe is the transit route from Iran to Iraq, Syria and, ultimately, the Mediterranean region.