Norway is betting on hydrogen and offshore wind for its energy transition but will continue to extract oil and gas until 2050 and beyond, the center-right government said as it presented its long-term energy strategy on Friday.
Europe's second-largest oil and gas producer will continue to hold regular licensing rounds, offering exploration acreage to energy firms, the government said.
The government anticipates oil and gas extraction, which made Norway one of the world's wealthiest nations, will naturally decline by 65% by 2050.
"We will facilitate a future-oriented Norwegian oil and gas industry capable of delivering products with low emissions within the framework of our climate policy," Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru told a news conference.
Norway plans to use hydroelectric power from land to cut emissions from its extensive offshore network of oil and gas platforms, but petroleum will not be the driving force of the economy that it once was, she added.
The government wants to strengthen the national power grid in order to make better use of Norway's extensive hydroelectric energy supply, which faces high demand both from new land-based industries as well as offshore oil platforms.
"It currently takes too long to plan and approve new grid installations," Bru said.
In its push for more green energy, the government also released a road map for hydrogen, promising to establish hubs in the area of maritime transport and industrial use by 2025 and to boost research.
Norway also aims to award its first offshore wind farm licenses in 2022.
State-controlled energy firm Equinor is due to set out its own strategy next week and is under pressure from minority shareholders demanding climate action and increased renewable energy investments.
The government white paper failed to show how Norway can continue to develop oil and gas under a scenario where the world meets a climate goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, as set out in the Paris climate accord, the opposition Labour Party said.
Favored to win power in national elections in September, Labour also believes Norway should continue to pump oil and gas, however, energy spokesman Espen Barth Eide told Reuters.
"We don't think that we should stop producing oil and gas now and leave it for Russia or Qatar to supply, but we need to understand that the demand will go down... The main thing is to hit the market right and not end up with stranded assets," he said.
(Additional reporting by Victoria Klesty and Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche and Elaine Hardcastle)