This review with Sigve Knudsen, Havtil’s director for legal and regulatory affairs, covers CO2 transport and storage, renewable energy operations offshore and seabed minerals.

CO2 transport and storage

Responsibility for these activities was delegated to Havtil in 2018, and regulations covering them were completed two years later.

“We already had a good deal of experience with CO2 capture and injection on such petroleum fields as Sleipner and Snøhvit,” reports Knudsen. “But CO2 transport and storage was nevertheless a new non-petroleum area for us, which needed separate regulations.”

He explains that it forms part of the overall system for carbon capture and storage (CCS), with Havtil’s responsibility covering the final link in the chain.

“If we exemplify this with Longship, the Norwegian government’s full-scale demonstration project for CCS, we’re responsible for that part of the land plant in Øygarden near Bergen with the equipment and functions handling outbound transport, through the pipelines and down to the formations.

“There are interfaces with other government bodies, such as the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) and the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority. We’ve worked a lot with these and with the various industry projects, advised the ministry – not least over licensing ­– and been an observer in certain licences. We also participate in international regulatory collaboration in this area.

“We see that the industry is taking off, with new concepts and solutions emerging for both intermediate storage and transport. We’re monitoring this trend ­– it’s important to ensure that the regulations and our follow-up of the industry are aligned.”

Renewable energy production offshore

Havtil was made responsible for renewable energy production in 2020. A consultation process is under way on draft new regulations, which could be adopted during the coming year.

“When this area became our responsibility in 2020, we already had specialist experience of working with offshore wind from following up the Hywind project and through collaboration with international regulators,” Knudsen reports.

Work on the regulations started in the autumn of 2020, he says. Draft proposals were issued for consultation in December 2023 with a deadline of March 2024 for comments.

“These regulations have been developed in a close dialogue with companies and unions through the Regulatory Forum,” Knudsen observes. “We’ve also had a good and constructive collaboration with other government agencies, such as the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE).

“This has undeniably been a long and demanding process. It took us almost two and a half years to have a draft ready for consultation. That’s a fairly long time.”

He says the process has been challenging because of the great level of interest among the parties. At the same time, the process has yielded a great deal of knowledge as well as ownership of the product in the industry and by companies and unions.

“The result has been a set of regulations which we believe is good. It’s risk-based and tailored to the operations it is intended to govern.”

Knudsen says Havtil is waiting expectantly for the consultation responses. “Once they’re in hand, we’ll work on them and involve the parties as and when required.

“It’s difficult to say when the regulations will be ready but, if it’s permissible to be optimistic, we’re hoping to be able to adopt them this summer – or perhaps by the New Year.”

Seabed minerals

Havtil was awarded regulatory authority for seabed minerals in 2022, and the process of developing regulations for this activity is set to start in 2024.

“Recovering such resources is a new area for us, and we’ve devoted a good deal of time initially to getting acquainted with it through dialogue with players in the industry, the companies, the unions, other government agencies and so forth,” Knudsen explains.

Photo of Sigve Knudsen, Havtil
“If seabed minerals are to be recovered, it must be done safely," says Sigve Knudsen, Havtil’s director for legal and regulatory affairs. Photo: Havtil/Anne Lise Norheim

He emphasises the importance of understanding the activity and what kinds of HSE challenges it poses, what could be encountered, what needs to be taken into consideration in the future, and how the business should be regulated.

“We collaborate well with the Norwegian Offshore Directorate (NOD), which has done a lot of work related to seabed minerals, and also participate in the work of the International Seabed Authority (ISA).”

The Storting (parliament) has now resolved to open the way for mineral operations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), Knudsen notes. “When activity starts, regulations will be needed to govern the working environment and safety. We’ll be starting work on that in 2024.

Read more: Norway gives green light for seabed minerals 

“As the specialist agency, we’ll contribute to regulating this in a safe and prudent manner. We must then build on what we know and ensure that the regulations take account of the safety challenges involved in this kind of operation.

“If seabed minerals are to be recovered, it must be done safely. I actually think everyone will concur with that.”