An Ocean of possibilities presented by Bellonas Ocean Forest Project at oil and gas conference

Publish date: August 29, 2012

Written by: Magnus Borgen

Translated by: Charles Digges

Producing clean energy and sustainable food for the world's growing population. Capturing large amounts of CO2. Minimising environmental damage from Norwegian aquaculture. All of these are goals that are objecties of Bellona’s ambitious new Ocean Forest Project.

Bellona presented the Ocean Forest Project at the Offshore Northern Shores (ONS) oil and gas conference in Stavanger, Norway yesterday.

“With the Ocean Forest Project, we want to use the sea to produce more of what the world needs,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. “If we succeed in the research experiments we particpate in with Leroy in the Lysefjord and SINTEF, NTNU and Aquaculture Research Institute in Hardangerfjord, we can help solve humanity’s major challenges”

The project was publically presented for the first time the same day Europe’s largest oil conference started in Stavanger. Bellona’s message to the international oil industry is very clear:

“Next year the UN will present its new climate report. It will show that the world urgently needs new and effective mitigation tactics,” said Hauge. “Humanity needs more food and energy, and this must be produced sustainably. Through the Ocean Forest Project, we can go on to solve humanity’s major challenges in an environmentally-appropriate manner.”

The future of green jobs in Norway

Bellona has long noted that the cultivation of seaweed has the potential to be a billion dollar environmental industry in Norway.

‘This undoubtedly has the potential to be the future of green jobs along the Norwegian coast,” said Haugue. “Our country has a unique, long coastline that fits perfectly with producing algae commercially, either in conjunction with the spawing of fish or as a ‘marine field,’” says Hauge.

Algae does not always elicit positive associations, but these ocean crops have many positive angles in the fight agaist climate change: Algae takes up large amounts of CO2 through photosynthesis. Macroalgae grow rapidly, and through processing, they can be used for everything from food to plastics, fertilizers, medicines and energy.

10% of fuel demand in road transport sector?

The idea with the Ocean Forest Project is based on Norway’s enormous aquaculture. Some fisheries accumulate large amounts of food and waste materials that can pose an environmental problem because they acidify water and create adverse conditions for fish.

“However, these wastes are also a resource,” said Hauge. “They can be nouishment for seaweed and mussels that can be grown industrially, and it is this which is Bellona’s idea of integrated aquaculture: The effective use of aquaculture industry profits,” said Hauge.

Bellona maintains continuous dialogue with the major figures of the aquaculture industry and the country’s largest energy companies. The Ocean Forest Project represents a unique opportunity for industry to play a crucial role in the environment and in combatting climate change – the goal of which is to create a comprehensive offshore infrastructure that benefits both aquaculture and the producers of clean renweable energy.

“There is an ocean of opportunities out there. Had all fisheris in Norway, for example, been run like the Ocean Forest Project, we could have produced 1.9million tons of macroalgae annually,” said Hauge.

“If the algae were used for fuel, it would cover 10 percent of the needs of the road transport sector,” he said.

“Bellona is continually working to create alternatives to Norwegian business and industry,” Hauge continued. “We are now starting to displace the oil industry through the Sahara Forest Project in desert countries like Jordan and Qatar, as well as the Ocean Forest Project along the Norwegian coast.”

Hague is confident that the project will grow in coming years to come, and he fired a warning salvo across the bow of the oil industry.

“If you can not beat us, join us,” said Hauge, who believes the ONS conference by 2030 will have changed its focus away from fossil energy sustainable algae and seaweed.

Contact for further comments and more information:

Anne Lise Leonczek, marine biologist and project leader for the Ocean Forest Project: +47 957 69 604

Magnus Borgen, Bellona Head of Communications: +47 977 28 476,