A director of the Norwegian Ministry of Oil & Energy has said that the key to Norway's success in the oil exploration industry is good resource management.

Mette Agerup told the Oireachtas Committee on Natural Resources that the Norwegian state controls the volumes that oil companies can take from the ground through the use of permits.

She said the state operated on the basis that the oil company was the helper in harnessing the country's natural resources, but that the oil ultimately belongs to the nation.

Norway operates on a taxation rate of 78% of net profits after exploration costs and other expenses have been accounted for. Its standard corporate tax rate is 28%.

The assistant director of the oil ministry said a royalty payment scheme had been abandoned as companies began to regulate their production to stay below certain daily thresholds to keep royalty payments at a minimum.

Norway established a petroleum pension fund in the early 1990s after it had paid off all its foreign debts. Today Norway has no foreign debts and a pension reserve fund of €600 billion.

Mette Agerup and Norwegian Ambassador Roald Naess were invited to the committee to give a presentation on Norway's success in the area of offshore exploration.

Ms Agerup advised that geological data collected by oil companies should be taken by the state, as Norway had done. She said this gave the state a big advantage in negotiations.

Under questioning from Sinn Féin's Martin Ferris, she said the Norwegian oil industry had one of the most expensive workforces in the world. She said it operated on a shift system of two weeks on, four weeks off. Ms Agerup said the state was looking at this now with a view to changing it.

Fianna Fáil's Eamon O Cuiv commended the Norwegian state on the public consultation process that it undertakes at every step of the exploration process. Ms Agerup said the public consultation process was not developed until the late 1970s although exploration had started in the late 1960s.

Ms Agerup said the state exported almost all of its gas and oil and was not very dependent on its resources. She said oil was expensive to purchase in the country at about €2 a litre.