Research Centre for Petroleum
Published 19 Feb 2021
Download the call
The purpose of this call is to establish up to two new Research Centres for Petroleum. The Research Centre for Petroleum (PETROSENTER) scheme, which was established in 2013, is a long-term targeted research initiative at a high international level. The objective is to address defined and delimited challenges related to utilisation of petroleum resources on the Norwegian continental shelf.
The research centres will improve capacity and expertise by way of long-term research and innovation with a view to value creation and benefits to society.
02 Mar 2021
06 Apr 2021
Deadline for project outlines
04 Aug 2021
Date call is made active
15 Sep 2021
Application submission deadline
01 Jan 2022
Earliest permitted project start
01 Jul 2022
Latest permitted project start
30 Jun 2030
Latest permitted project completion
About the call for proposals
Mandatory project outline
A project outline must be submitted and constitutes the first stage of the application process for a Research Centre for Petroleum. Only applicants who have submitted a mandatory outline by the stipulated deadline are eligible to apply for funding under the final application round (the application submission deadline was 6 April 2021).
Requirements and guidelines for this application type
Please carefully read the document Societal and Industry-oriented Research Centre – Requirements and guidelines (opens in a new window).
Overall framework for the call
The vision and objectives of the call are linked to the templates in the Portfolio Plan for Petroleum (in Norwegian only), particularly the main objective ‘Sustainable management of the environment, resources, nature and areas’ and more specifically, the sub-goal ‘Responsible management of Norwegian petroleum resources in areas opened for petroleum activities’. All research activities must be seen in conjunction with the reserves/resource basis on the Norwegian continental shelf and existing and future development solutions related thereto.
Since a research centre has both a larger economic framework and longer project period than other application types, we expect additional value to be generated in the form of:
- all research activities contributing to a common goal for the centre in order to address complex issues;
- the centre having clear plans for how the research results can be taken further and used in innovations;
- a broad cooperation between research partners and user partners, with clear role descriptions for all centre partners.
We expect broad research-based development of knowledge, expertise and technology, at the same time as the centres having clearly defined goals and delimitations. Good interaction must be facilitated between the various parts of the centre, and centre-building activities and activities that ensure proper involvement of user partners must take place. Applicants should demonstrate knowledge about and an understanding of society at large, and must have good cooperation with other large-scale research initiatives within or at the interface with the centre's area of research.
The centre should focus on long-term perspectives and research needs, and on the research results being implemented in offshore petroleum activities. The application should also state how time-critical the various research and technology needs are.
The Norwegian-language call for proposals is the legally binding version.
Who is eligible to apply?
Approved Norwegian research organisations may apply in binding cooperation with relevant actors outside the research sector, as described further down in the call.
Who can participate in the project?
Requirements relating to the Project Owner
The research organisation listed as the Project Owner in the application form must have authorised the submission of the grant application to the Research Council.
- The Project Owner must be a research organisation approved by the Research Council (see ‘Who is eligible to apply?’ above).
- When submitting the full application, the Project Owner must refer to the outline number of their project outline, submitted before the stipulated deadline.
Requirements relating to project managers
- You must have an approved doctorate or achieved professor/associate professor qualifications before the date of the application submission deadline. For the purposes of this call, you are also qualified if you hold or have held a position as forsker 1 (research professor), forsker 2 (senior researcher) or seniorforsker (senior researcher) in the institute sector.
- You must have documented qualifications and/or experience of managing large-scale projects.
- You can only be the project manager of one application submitted under this call for proposals.
Requirements relating to partners and user participation
The document ‘Requirements and guidelines – Societal and Industry-oriented Research Centre’ describes the partner constellations and roles in the centre. User participation is required in societal and industry-oriented research centres.
- The centre’s research will be carried out by one or more research organisation in binding cooperation with relevant Norwegian industry partners and potentially also partners from other sectors.
- The grant application must describe how the project incorporates the strategic objectives of all the partners. The Project Owner and other centre research partners can contribute funding to highlight their engagement and the centre’s strategic foundation.
- All partners must actively contribute to planning, following up and disseminating the results generated by the centre and ensure that the new knowledge is taken into use.
- The centre must have three or more partners that are not research organisations and that provide funding to the project (user partners). Funding from the Research Council may be a maximum of two times that of funding from user partners. Both cash contributions and the user partners’ work effort (in-kind contributions) can be included.
- The board of the centre must have a majority of user partners.
- The centre may have foreign partners. The application must document how these will contribute to reaching the centre’s goals.
What can you seek funding for?
Scope of funding
- You can apply for a maximum of NOK 80 million over an eight-year period, divided between maximum NOK 50 million the first five years and maximum NOK 30 million the last three years. The funding for the last three years will be decided on the basis of the outcome of a mid-term evaluation of the centre.
- You can apply for funding to cover a share of the actual costs necessary to carry out the activities in the centre. You will find detailed and important information on our website about what to enter in the budget, and more details about the application type in the document ‘Requirements and guidelines – societal and industry-oriented research centres.
- Funding from the Research Council may not exceed twice the amount of the funding from user partners.
- Stays abroad for doctoral and post-doctoral fellows must be covered within the framework of the centre. PETROSENTER will therefore not be covered by our call for Funding for Research Stays Abroad for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows.
Conditions for funding
- State aid will not be granted through this application type. The project is to be implemented by means of effective collaboration as defined in the state aid rules:
‘Collaboration between at least two independent parties to exchange knowledge or technology, or to achieve a common objective based on the division of labour where the parties jointly define the scope of the collaborative project, contribute to its implementation and share its risks, as well as its results. One or several parties may bear the full costs of the project and thus relieve other parties of its financial risks. Contract research and provision of research services are not considered forms of collaboration.’
- Funding awarded to a research organisation is only to go to the organisation’s non-economic activity. It does not therefore constitute state aid. The Research Council requires a clear separation of accounts for the organisation’s economic and non-economic activities.
- Undertakings may not receive funding to cover project costs.
- Ownership of project results must be regulated to ensure that undertakings participating in the centre do not receive indirect state aid from participating research partners. The regulation of ownership must therefore be in compliance with paragraph 28 of the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s guidelines for state aid for research and development and innovation. This means that ownership of IPR from the project must be allocated to the different project partners in a way that satisfactorily reflects their work packages, contributions and respective interests.
Scientific articles and research data
The Research Council requires full and immediate open access to scientific articles; see Plan S – open access to publications.
Research data must be made available in accordance with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). The Project Owner organisation of projects that process data must prepare a data management plan in connection with the revised application.
The Project Owner organisation is responsible for selecting which archiving solution(s) to use for storing research data generated during the project.
Equality must be a consideration in the work on planning and developing new applications, and it must also be integrated in the centre’s recruitment plans. We encourage all applicants to be on the lookout for women who are qualified for the roles of centre director, work package manager and leading researcher. Where applicants are otherwise equally qualified, we will prioritise applications with female centre directors and centres with good female representation in leading positions.
Relevant thematic areas for this call
The call targets subsurface understanding, which is a thematic area of great importance to value creation and realisation of the remaining resources on the Norwegian continental shelf. The thematic area is also relevant to plugging and abandonment of wells.
The research should target increasing the resource and reserve basis on the Norwegian continental shelf and generating an impact on value creation along the value chain from exploration to development, operation and abandonment. Natural science, technology and social science disciplines may be incorporated. We expect subsurface understanding to be more closely linked to digitalisation going forward, and to become an integrated part of the industry’s toolbox to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its operations.
There is great potential for digitalising subsurface data, developing new digital work methods and sharing data on a thematic area traditionally characterised by immense competition and limited collaboration. Collaboration with international digitalisation initiatives and with the oil and gas industry concerning standardisation, interfaces and the users’ need for integration in operations is important.
A new climate strategy for the Norwegian continental shelf, developed by Konkraft (2020) stipulates the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and achieve close to zero emissions by 2050 (the reference year is 2005). The Storting recently adopted a resolution concerning a plan for further reductions by 2030. This will require a major reorganisation of the industry over the next decade.
More efficient reservoir management is one of two particularly important priority areas highlighted in the climate strategy. In addition to reducing emissions from its own activities and pertaining offshore maritime activities, Norway’s oil and gas industry will gradually establish a new and forward-looking energy industry on the Norwegian continental shelf that includes offshore wind farms, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage projects that will facilitate major emission reductions in Norway, Europe and the rest of the world.
The application must address all of the strategic priorities and one or more of the thematic priorities listed here. However, the project does not need to cover the whole scope of thematic priorities in the call to be allocated funding.
- Close cooperation between the industry and research groups. We expect participation from company partners from the oil and gas value chain. Cross-sectoral collaboration with the renewable energy or maritime sector will count as positive where this underscores the centre’s objectives.
- Openness about results and documentation in accordance with the Research Council’s Policy on Open Science. You must prepare plans and practise regular and systematic dissemination of data and results from the project.
- Concrete plans for quick implementation of best practice and new technology.
- National and/or international cooperation.
- Researcher education for doctoral and post-doctoral research fellows, and contributions to research-based education at master’s level in the centre’s thematic area.
- Knowledge and technology adapted to resource categories/estimates, which according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s overview, has major remaining potential on the Norwegian continental shelf.
- Development of methods for digitalisation of basin and reservoir-related processes and data sharing of subsurface data.
- Effective reservoir management to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Cross-sectoral research on the subsurface that links petroleum activities to e.g. carbon capture and storage and hydrogen, and that will lead to long-term reorganisation of the petroleum sector in a low-emission society.
- Knowledge development of geological models at the basin and reservoir scale that enable a better understanding of petroleum systems.
- Reservoir technology for effective drainage.
You must describe the research's contribution to achieving the following impacts in the application:
- increased base of resources and reserves;
- energy efficiency benefits and a potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions;
- the UN Sustainable Development Goals and environmental considerations;
- how you plan to bring the research results from the centre further to be used in specific innovations.
The description of impacts should provide examples with quantitative estimates for the two first points. You should also provide a time perspective for the implementation of new technology, methods and knowledge with the end user. Other relevant impacts can also be described.
- Activities that duplicate other major ongoing projects, such as a Norwegian Centre of Excellence (SFF), Centre for Research-based Innovation (SFI) or Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) must be avoided, and adjacent activities must be coordinated.
- Applications that only target the renewable energy sector (including carbon capture and storage) must be submitted under future calls for an FME.
Requirements for this application type
The application must be based on a project outline submitted by the deadline for project outlines 6 April 2021. Applications from approved applicants that do not refer to a submitted project outline may be rejected.
- The application and all attachments must be submitted in English. All mandatory attachments must be included.
- All attachments must be uploaded in PDF format.
- Requirements relating to the Project Owner (research organisation) must be satisfied.
- Requirements relating to the partners must be satisfied.
- Project description of up to 20 pages in length. The project description must use the designated template, which is available for download at the end of the call.
- CV of the project manager (centre director) and other key personnel/work package managers in the project of up to four pages each using the designated template at the end of the call. A maximum of eight CVs can be attached. Additional CVs will not be taken into consideration. The CVs must use the designated template which is available for download at the end of the call.
- Letter of intent from the Project Owner. A letter of intent from the management of the Project Owner’s organisation must be attached (1–2 pages in English), stating that it will accept the obligations that follow from a contract with the Research Council. The letter must also describe what part the centre will play in the host institution’s scientific strategy.
- A letter of intent from all registered partners (1–2 pages in English). The letters from each of the partners must include the following:
- The partner must confirm their intention to participate actively as a partner in the centre and describe how this will be done in practice.
- The partner must give reasons for their interest in participating in the centre. How will the centre’s activities benefit the partner and create opportunities that would not otherwise arise without the centre?
- What potential for innovation and sustainable value creation does the partner envisage from the centre’s expected results, and how can the research results be applied?
- The partner must summarise their contribution to the centre in the form of knowledge, expertise and, if relevant, funding, facilities and own efforts during the centre's lifetime.
- The partner must describe their own long-term R&D plans and how this reflects the centre’s strategic plans (strategic foundation).
- Proposals for up to five referees who are considered qualified to assess the application. The expert’s name, title, email and address must be stated. We are not obliged to use the experts proposed by the applicant.
We will not assess documents and websites linked to in the application, or other attachments than those specified above. There is no technical validation of the content of uploaded attachments, so please ensure that you upload the correct file for the selected type of attachment.
Applications that do not meet the requirements listed above will be rejected.
You may revise and resubmit your grant application form multiple times up to the application submission deadline. We recommend that you submit your application as soon as you have filled in the application form and included all mandatory attachments. After the deadline, it is the most recently submitted version of the grant application that will be processed.
Grant applications will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:
• Assess scientific creativity and originality.
• The extent to which hypotheses and research questions are innovative and courageous.
• The extent to which the centre has the potential to generate new knowledge that advances the research front, including significant development/renewal of theories, methods, experiments or empirical knowledge.
The quality of the centre's R&D activities
• Assess the quality of research questions, hypotheses and project objectives, and the extent to which they are clearly described.
• The extent to which the theoretical approach, research design and choice of methods are credible and appropriate, and interdisciplinary perspectives are sufficiently considered.
• The extent to which research conducted at the centre takes sufficient consideration of social responsibility, ethical issues and gender dimensions.
• The extent to which the centre satisfactorily addresses users/stakeholders’ knowledge.
• The extent to which the centre’s planned results can contribute to addressing important scientific challenges, both now and going forward.
• The extent to which the centre’s planned results can address important challenges in the sector(s), both now and going forward.
• The extent to which competence building and the centre's planned results will form the basis for value creation in the Norwegian business and/or public sector.
• The extent to which the centre describes impacts that constitute added value from organising a major research initiative as a research centre.
• The extent to which the centre’s planned results are relevant to the UN Sustainable Development Goals or have the potential to address other important societal challenges, both now and going forward.
• The extent to which the potential impacts are clearly formulated and credible.
Communication and utilisation
• Assess the quality and scope of communication and involvement activities targeting relevant stakeholders/users.
• The extent to which partners are involved in the work of utilising the centre's results.
• The extent to which the project manager (centre director) has relevant expertise and experience and is qualified to lead an initiative of this scale.
• The extent to which the project participants complement one another, and the project group has the necessary expertise to effectively implement the centre initiative.
The quality of the centre’s organisation and management
• The extent to which the centre will be efficiently organised, including whether the resources allocated to the different work packages are sufficient and in accordance with the centre’s objectives and deliveries.
• The extent to which the centre's tasks are distributed in a way that ensures all project participants have a clear role and sufficient resources to fulfil that role.
• The extent to which the management and governance of the centre are expediently organised, including risk and innovation management.
• The extent to which the partners contribute to the management and implementation of the centre.
The quality and extent of international cooperation
• The extent to which the scope and quality of international collaborative activities are in keeping with the centre's objectives.
Gender balance in the centre’s project group
• If the gender balance in the centre's management team (centre manager and research managers) is poor, the extent to which the centre have an expedient plan in place to support the development of researcher talents of the under-represented gender to qualify for senior-level positions?
Relevance to the call for proposals
Once the grant applications have been received, the Research Council will conduct a preliminary administrative review to ensure that they satisfy all the stipulated formal requirements. Applications that do not meet the formal requirements will be rejected.
Applications will then be assessed by a panel comprising impartial external referees with expertise in the relevant thematic area. For each grant application, we check to ensure that the panel meets requirements relating to impartiality and has sufficient expertise to review the application’s research topic. The referee panel will assess the criteria Excellence, Impact and Implementation. A consensus mark is awarded for each of these criteria.
After the panel has completed its assessment, the Research Council will conduct an assessment of the application’s relevance to the call. The overall mark is calculated on the basis of the average of the four criteria without weighting. To be relevant for funding, the application is likely to need an overall mark of 6 or better.
The Research Council will draw up a recommendation on which applications to fund based on an overall assessment of the project portfolio, which will then form the basis for the portfolio boards’ funding decisions.
The project portfolio assessment will take the following factors into account:
- The applications’ assigned marks based on the assessments and the written assessment of the criteria.
- The distribution of proposed and ongoing projects, for example other research centres, in relation to priorities set out for the specific priority areas of the call.
- Any changes in the financial or scientific framework for PETROSENTER set by the Ministry of petroleum and energy.
- Priority will be given to projects led by women project managers when the applications are otherwise considered to be on a par.
The Portfolio Board for Petroleum will make the final decision in the case. It may be relevant to allocate funding to less than two centres, thereby reducing the funding framework, if the number of applications or quality is too low or the portfolio assessment (the points above) so indicates. We do not wish to establish several centres with a significant overlap in scientific approach and activity.