* Norway’s deputy oil minister meets CNOOC vice-president
* CNOOC is the biggest oil and gas producer in China
* Norway PM visiting China April 7-10, first in decade
By Nerijus Adomaitis
OSLO, April 6 (Reuters) - Norway and China are looking to increase cooperation on energy, a senior Norwegian official told Reuters, in another sign of thawing relations between Oslo and Beijing following a seven-year row over the Nobel Peace Prize.
Norway’s deputy oil and energy minister Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde said China wanted to learn from Norway’s expertise in reducing costs and pollution. She was speaking after a meeting with China’s biggest offshore oil producer, CNOOC, in Beijing on Thursday.
“CNOOC was interested in how Norway have reduced costs and our experiences in clean and environmentally friendly technology ... (they) would like to learn more from Norway and the Norwegian industry,” Tybring-Gjedde told Reuters after talks with Lv Bo, CNOOC vice president and chairman of the group’s two listed subsidiaries.
The meeting came ahead of Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s four-day visit to China on Friday, the first since the two countries resumed full diplomatic relations in December.
Solberg is due to meet President Xi Jinping on Monday, and other top Chinese officials.
Relations between the two countries broke down in 2010 when the Nobel Peace Prize, which is decided by a Norwegian committee, was awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. He remains in prison.
Despite the rift, Norwegian state oil firm Statoil has still been able to collaborate with CNOOC and Chinese peer Sinochem in the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil, respectively.
CNOOC, which operates the 180,000 barrels per day Buzzard field offshore Britain via its subsidiary Nexen, has previously said it would be interested in investing in Norway.
Norway is seeking to attract new players as interest from oil majors has dwindled as oil production has halved since peaking at the turn of the century.
“We had an open dialogue and agreed to cooperate more closely,” Tybring-Gjedde said.
Statoil sells about 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day to Chinese refineries, in addition to LPG and other products.
Its CEO Eldar Saetre will be among Norwegian business executives travelling to China with Solberg.
A spokesman for Statoil declined to comment on the meetings. (Editing by Susan Fenton)