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ND delegation heading to Norway to talk oil

GRAND FORKS - A North Dakota delegation of state, local, business, education and other leaders will travel to Norway on Saturday for a weeklong examination of that country's energy industry and how lessons learned there might be applied here.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Agriculture Secretary Doug Goehring and several legislators, including Sen. Lonnie Laffen, RGrand Forks, will be in the 18-member delegation.

"Norway is fairly progressive in the way they handle oil and gas development and how they treat it environmentally," said Laffen, a member of the Senate Energy Development and Transmission Committee. "We're just kind of starting on big development, and I think we can learn from them."

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, the energy companies Statoil and Borregaard and several academic and nongovernmental organizations will host the delegation, which was organized by the Great Plains Institute and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

In a news release announcing the delegation, the institute's Patrice Lahlum called oil-rich Norway "one of the world's premier energy players" and North Dakota "one of the fastest-growing energy producers among U.S. states."

North Dakota recently passed Alaska to rank as the second-largest oil producing state, behind only Texas.

Statoil is Norway's national oil company and recently invested $4.4 billion in Brigham Resources and its operations in western North Dakota's Bakken oil formation.

Stenehjem, a member of the North Dakota Land Board, said he is "looking forward to learning how Norway is utilizing its assets - whether cash, land or minerals - to benefit its citizens both now and for the future."

Goehring, who like Stenehjem is a member of the state Industrial Commission, noted that North Dakota leads in the production of soybeans, corn and other crops that can be used in the production of biofuels.

"Seeing how the Norwegians are using their renewable resources to develop new products can be helpful to North Dakota as we strive to be a major player in the biofuel industry," he said, according to the news release.