Natural resources and energy
Norway’s by far the most important natural resources are the oil and natural gas found under the continental shelf offshore. The country has the largest known oil and gas deposits in Western Europe, and it is one of the world’s largest exporters of oil.
The first Norwegian oil was discovered in 1969 on the Ekofisk field in the North Sea, just inside Norway’s southern sea border with Denmark. Ekofisk proved to be one of the world’s largest offshore oil fields and the discovery was followed by a series of large oil and gas discoveries outside southern Norway.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Norway with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
In 1975, Norway produced more oil than the inhabitants themselves consumed and two years later gas production began. The Ekofisk, Statfjord, Gullfaks, Oseberg and Snorre fields accounted for 70 percent of oil production up to and including 1998. Exports began in 1996 from the large Troll gas field outside Bergen.
After an accident in Ekofisk 1977, when oil flowed uncontrollably from one of the platforms, the environmental movement demanded a halt to further exploitation. The 62nd latitude was retained for a period as a northern border, but since large oil and gas deposits were found even north, production started off Norway’s mid-coast in 1993.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, NO stands for Norway. Visit itypeusa for more information about Norway.
Contested extraction in the Barents Sea
Outside Northern Norway, oil extraction was started in 1997. Large barrels of gas and oil have also been made in the Barents Sea at the far north. In the Snøhvit gas field (including Albatross and Askeladd) outside Hammerfest, production of chilled, liquefied natural gas was initiated in 2007. Environmental organizations tried to stop the project, which is considered to pollute the Barents sea and significantly increase carbon dioxide emissions. Gas production was started at Ormen Lange southwest of Trondheim in 2007. In 2016, Norway gave 13 companies permission to search for oil in a hitherto untouched part of the Barents Sea.
The expansion of Snøhvit, Ormen Lange and Kristin field (between Stavanger and Bergen) has meant that gas production has increased sharply in the 2000s.
Through pipelines on the seabed, oil and gas travel to the UK and to the European continent.
The Storting decides who should receive a concession, that is, the right to exploit a new area. The foreign companies have largely free hands with the oil they find, but they have to pay taxes and fees to the Norwegian state. The former wholly state-owned oil company Statoil was partially privatized in 2001 and 2006, Statoil was merged and Norsk Hydro’s oil and gas operations merged into one of the world’s largest offshore oil and gas companies. Statoil changed its name to Equinor in 2018 to signal that the company is active in the entire energy sector, including renewable energy.
In autumn 2019, Norway’s third largest oil field, Johan Sverdrup, was opened. Around SEK 100 billion has been invested in the project and the field’s capacity was expected to be close to 660,000 barrels of oil per day. About two-thirds of the deposits are estimated to have been mined before 2030. Johan Sverdrup is highlighted as a climate-friendly project because it is driven primarily by renewable energy, which is unusual for the oil fields in the sea, which are usually driven by diesel generators.
The investment in new oil fields will, according to the Norwegian oil authority, lead to an increase of the country’s oil production by about 43 percent by 2024.
Norway is not a member of the oil exporting countries’ organization Opec.
Plenty of hydropower
In addition to oil and natural gas, Norway has assets of iron ore, coal (on Svalbard), lead, zinc, aluminum, copper and ilmenite (raw material for titanium).
The country has large hydropower resources, and the electricity supply is almost entirely based on hydropower. Norway’s electricity consumption per person is among the highest in the world, mainly due to the aluminum and oil industries, which account for two-thirds of energy consumption. A lot of electricity also goes on exports.
Further expansion of hydropower has been stopped by environmental protests. When the water is low in the reservoirs, electricity from the Nordic neighboring countries’ nuclear power plants and thermal power plants is imported through NordPool, the world’s only multinational exchange of electricity.
In international agreements, Norway has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent (from 1990 levels) by 2030. In 2016, the parliament decided that by 2030 the country should be completely carbon dioxide neutral by financing emission reductions in the world corresponding to its own residual emissions. Norway has invested heavily in the population to switch to electric cars through subsidies such as abolished VAT on fuel and tax relief. The country has also donated billions to the UN Climate Fund, where the money goes to support developing countries.
However, the Norwegian government has been criticized by environmental groups for not limiting oil and gas production and for not using the oil fund’s resources (see Economy) to a sufficient degree in climate policy. In 2016, environmental organizations sued the Norwegian state for violating the Constitution. The organizations argued that the decision to allow oil drilling in previously closed areas in the Barents Sea was contrary to the promise in the Constitution to protect nature and the environment on behalf of future generations. In 2020, a Norwegian higher court rejected the environmental organizations’ lawsuit.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
5,816 kilo oil equivalents (2015)
Electricity consumption per person
23000 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
47 627 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
9.3 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
57.8 percent (2015)
Prohibition on the purchase of sexual services
The Storting votes through a ban on the purchase of sexual services. The law also applies to Norwegian citizens abroad.
Climate settlement in the parliament
Six parties – all except the Progress Party – agree that Norway will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent (compared with 1990 levels) by 2020. They also agree that Norway by 2050 – preferably 2030 – should become carbon dioxide-neutral by the outside world corresponding to their own emissions.
The Foreign Minister survives suicide
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre is recovering from a suicide bombing in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. Six people are killed when the hotel where Støre lives is attacked. A Norwegian journalist is among the victims. The Taliban take on the blame for the deed.