Norway. Following government negotiations at Jeløya which
began after the New Year, the party leaders of Høyre, the
Progress Party (FRP) and Venstre agreed to form a new
government. For the past four years, the government has
consisted of only the Right and populist FRP but ruled with
the help of the Venstre and Christian People's Party (KRF).
After the September 11, 2017 election, however, KRF
announced that it would leave the formal cooperation with
In mid-January, the new government was introduced, which
meant that five new ministers were appointed while four were
allowed to go. According to
Countryaah.com, Erna Solberg (Right) continued as prime
minister, as did Siv Jensen (FRP), who remained as finance
minister. Also in attendance were Ine Eriksen Søreide
(Right) as Foreign Minister and Frank Bakke-Jensen (Right)
as Minister of Defense. Åse Michaelsen (FRP) was appointed
the country's first minister of seniority, and the leader of
Venstre Trine Skei Grande was appointed new Minister of
Culture. Høyre's Marit Berger Røsland was allowed to leave
the post of Minister of Europe, while Sylvi Listhaug (FRP),
in addition to the post of Minister of Immigration, also
became Minister of Justice.
However, Listhaug quickly got into the hot air after a
Facebook post in March stating that "The Labor Party
believes that the rights of terrorists are more important
than the security of the nation." This prompted Prime
Minister Solberg to go out and publicly apologize for the
statement. The entire government, including Listhaug, was
said to be behind the apology. But that wasn't enough. The
Labor Party, Socialist Left Party, Center Party, Red and the
Environment Party The Greens demanded a declaration of
confidence in Listhaug. KRF did not have confidence in
Listhaug, but doubted a distrust. Before a vote of no
confidence, Sylvi Listhaug resigned March 20. A lack of
confidence could have led to the resignation of Prime
Minister Erna Solberg's government.
A new crisis came in the autumn. As part of reversing
declining figures, KRF's party leader Knut Arild Hareide
wanted to leave the collaboration with the government and
instead join the red-green bloc. KRF has been a support
party for the government since 2013 and leaving this
cooperation could be a blow to the government. But at the
national meeting in early November, members chose the blue
option before the red one. Hareide had threatened to resign
at a loss but did not. One of KRF's profile issues is
abortion legislation, and as a consequence of the debacle -
and to appease the party - Prime Minister Solberg promised
to review the legislation and tighten it in KRF's spirit.
In May, 1,700 employees in the public service company NRK
went on strike after negotiations between the trade union
Norsk Journalistlag and the employer organization Spekter
broke down. TV and radio broadcasts were down for eight days
(even over the May 17 celebration). On May 23, a salary
increase for journalists of 2.8% was agreed, skills
development and short-term workers should be able to receive
the same salary as permanent employees.
In June, the Storting voted in favor of a ban on burka
and niqab or other clothing covering the face in teaching
situations. This should apply to both teachers and pupils.
The ban is introduced not only at pre-schools, schools and
universities, but also at introductory courses for new
arrivals. According to Minister of Knowledge and Integration
Jan Tore Sanner (Høyre), this will "ensure open
communication with children, pupils, students and newly
In June, the Norwegian state sold its remaining 37.8
million SAS shares, representing almost 10% of the airline.
The sale was made at a price of SEK 17.25 per share and was
part of the Norwegian state's attitude that you do not
consider yourself a long-term owner of the airline. Sales
brought in SEK 652 million - a small consolation given the
SEK 15 billion that flows out of the country each year in
connection with the Swedish border trade, especially since
Norway at the turn of the year increased the sugar tax by
A strong supplier industry
Long before Statoil emerged as a major industrial
operator in most areas of the oil business on its own in the
late 1980s, the company played a crucial role in the
development of the Norwegian offshore supply industry.
Compared to oil-producing countries in the south, Norway
had relatively good conditions for building an independent
supplier industry. Norway had an extensive shipping
industry, and Norwegian maritime expertise came in handy
when floating exploration platforms and other installations
were to be set up and operated at sea.
Shortly after the Ekofisk discovery, Norwegian shipowners
had established themselves as dominant owners of exploration
rigs. Aker made great success when the company early
constructed the so-called Aker H3 rig that was produced at
Norwegian shipyards. However, most of the construction of
the many installations that soon constituted a small
offshore town on the Ekofisk field was carried out abroad.
Norwegian companies were able to build steel and concrete
installations on their own quite quickly. But Norway lacked
the more advanced expertise needed to find and extract oil
Business was divided into what strategy to use to develop
the relevant technology. Companies such as Aker and Kvaerner
pushed for Norway to introduce protective measures. In a
royal decree of December 8, 1972, section 54 stated that
Norwegian companies should be preferred "[...] in cases
where Norwegian goods and services were competitive, both in
terms of quality, service, delivery time and price [...]".
Norwegian shipowners and the Ministry of Commerce were
opposed to this section. They felt that Norway could be
punished by being excluded from international markets.
The paragraph did not matter in the first place. But from
1974, rising unemployment as a result of the oil crisis
forced the British to introduce protectionist measures to
protect their industry. Norway followed a similar policy to
more actively promote the development of local suppliers.
However, the most important instrument for achieving this
was not § 54, but Statoil's role as the dominant owner in
the new large field development projects. Statoil pressed
for Norwegian Mobil to choose Norwegian suppliers in the
Statfjord field. On the Gullfaks field, the next major
development project where Statoil itself was an operator,
the company was free to choose suppliers.
Throughout the 1980s, Norwegian companies developed
technological know-how that made it possible to master more
and more of the technological challenges in the North Sea.
Norwegian companies had an advantage, but had to compete
At the same time as the establishment of Statoil on June
12, 1972, the Storting decided to establish an oil
directorate in Stavanger. The Norwegian Petroleum
Directorate continued preparatory work in connection with
concession announcements and allocations that were
previously carried out by the Ministry of Industry. The
Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's first leader, Fredrik
Hagemann, himself came from the Ministry of Industry.
Hagemann was leader until 1996.
Under the Royal Resolution of April 9, 1965, the
companies were required to submit core samples from all
wells drilled. With these tests and with access to the oil
companies' assessments in connection with license
applications, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate was able
to build up a unique insight into the geology of the
Norwegian continental shelf. To gain knowledge of areas
where it has not yet been drilled, the Directorate also
ordered seismic investigations on its own. Since the
Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's planning department played
an important role in connection with concession awards, it
was immediately given a strong position vis-à-vis the oil
It took longer to develop an authority vis-à-vis the oil
industry on safety regulation. Norway had a regulatory
framework for drilling operations as early as 1967, but it
was not followed by effective inspection activities. How to
draft regulations and follow up on these remained unsolved
in the first years after the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate
was established. It was difficult to control activities that
were so far out in the North Sea, and inspection missions at
the installations required extensive logistics. The problem
with a traditional approach to security, in which the state
designed regulations and companies related to this, was that
technological developments went so fast and were so complex
that it was difficult to follow up on relevant rules. When
something went wrong, the companies could conceal that it
was the state that had failed because the regulations were
The security challenges associated with the first
exploration and subsequent development phase on the
Norwegian continental shelf were considerable. Between 1965
and 1978, 82 workers were killed in connection with the
activities on the Norwegian continental shelf. Only during
the development of the Ekofisk field, between 1971 and 1977,
45 workers perished; 16 of them were killed in helicopter
crashes. The accident that received the most international
attention was the uncontrolled blowout from the Bravo
platform on Ekofisk. The Bravo accident did not result in
any serious injuries, but a discharge of about 9,000 tonnes
The high number of people killed until the late 1970s was
primarily due to work accidents where one or two workers
lost their lives. On March 27, 1980, Norwegian oil business
was hit by a disaster when the housing platform Alexander L.
Kielland crashed into the Ekofisk field and killed 123
The many accidents affected the Petroleum Directorate's
approach to safety. In the summer of 1974, the director of
the directorate's security department withdrew in protest
against what he believed was a defective control apparatus.
In the years that followed, the number of posts in the
Norwegian Petroleum Directorate increased. The foreign oil
companies wanted as little public regulation as possible,
but the Norwegian shipping industry wanted a system similar
to shipping, with a certification scheme in which the
private company Det Norske Veritas carried out inspections.
The regulatory philosophy that was used in the safety
work in the oil business was called internal control. It was
stated unequivocally that it was the responsible operator
who was responsible for the safety at all times. The concept
of goal management was introduced, which meant that, in
addition to complying with existing regulations, the
companies should ensure that accidents should not occur. The
companies were obliged to develop internal security systems
(hence the term internal control) which provided this. Where
no regulations existed by the authorities, the companies
would have to introduce their own procedures.
The role of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate should be
to check that the companies had well-functioning safety
systems, not to carry out detailed checks on the oil
installations. The Directorate was mandated to intervene
directly with the industry if deemed necessary. Compared to
other public regulatory institutions, the Norwegian
Petroleum Directorate had a unique instrument: Oil companies
that did not conform to the requirements risked being
penalized in connection with concession awards.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's safety philosophy
had an impact on all offshore operations, because all oil
companies that were operators had to adhere to the internal
control system. Operators were also put in charge of what
hired companies did. Internal control was introduced as a
principle in the form of regulations from 1981. From 1985,
the principle of internal control became part of the
Petroleum Act. However, regulation of offshore safety was
characterized by a two-tier distribution until the 1990s, as
floating exploration rigs, supply boats and diving
activities were subject to a maritime regime where the
working environment law did not apply. The Norwegian
Petroleum Directorate's authority was strengthened from 1
January 1993 when the Working Environment Act became
applicable to all offshore activities.
Efforts to improve security on the Norwegian continental
shelf produced results. From the Kielland accident in 1980
to 1990, 13 people were killed in connection with activities
in the North Sea. Seven of the 13 were divers, a group that
failed to solve their security problems before companies
switched to using underwater robots (ROVs). In the time
after 1990, many years went by without a single death. In
relation to the number of hours worked, the number of
accidents was only a small fraction of what it had been in
the first years.
On January 1, 2004, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's
security department was separated as an independent
institution under the name Petroleum Safety Authority
Norway. The resource department continued under the old name
of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.
Oil workers in conflict and cooperation
The accidents were an indication that the first oil
workers on the Norwegian continental shelf faced tough
physical challenges. But these were also linked to the work
regime the oil industry brought with them. The North Sea oil
business was a continuation of offshore operations outside
US states such as Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas.
The dominant foreign companies brought with them a work
culture that was foreign to many Norwegian workers,
especially those with trade union background and experience
from orderly conditions in the industry.
Some oil workers adapted and climbed in the job hierarchy
of the foreign companies, several of whom got senior
positions in Norwegian companies later. Common to most
Norwegian oil workers was a background in which collective
rights and protection against arbitrary abuses were highly
valued. Several attempts were made to organize oil workers.
Associations were established both inside and outside LO.
All organizations had to deal with a general frustration
over working conditions.
From the spring of 1978, dissatisfaction was expressed in
a series of spontaneous strikes. Many of the demands were
directed directly at the negative aspects of the prevailing
work culture. But salary requirements were also set. The
Norwegian authorities had introduced a wage and price halt
to curb inflation and prevent the Norwegian cost level from
remaining above competitors abroad. The oil workers' wage
demands thus became a challenge for the entire Norwegian
income system. Foreign oil companies, which were otherwise
negative to trade unions, on several occasions appeared
willing to give in with large pay increases to secure
Immediately after the parliamentary elections in 1981,
all foreign operating companies were called on the blanket
of newly elected Prime Minister Kåre Willoch. There they
were clearly told to adapt to the traditional Norwegian work
regime. In practice, this meant joining Norwegian employers'
unions and accepting the Norwegian trade union movement as a
The oil sector was also subject to strikes and unrest
after this. There was some intense competition between the
trade union OFS and the LO-affiliated NOPEF for the same
members. When Norwegian oil companies became dominant
employers from the late 1980s, several attempts were made to
weaken OFS in favor of LO-linked NOPEF, which was considered
the most cooperative of the two. From the 1990s, the oil
business fell into a pattern of institutionalized
interaction between companies, employees and the state,
similar to that in other sectors of the Norwegian economy.
Cooperation in the oil sector was especially developed when
it came to safety and working environment issues.
Recovery and investment rate
According to Storting Report 25 of 1974, the oil riches
were to be used to develop a "qualitatively better society".
But this would happen without it all ending as a rapid and
uncontrolled growth in the use of material resources. In the
first point of the report it was stated: "Based on the
desire for long-term utilization of resources and after a
comprehensive social assessment, the government has come to
Norway to maintain a moderate pace in the extraction of
By maintaining a moderate pace, it was easier to make
sure that the oil and gas you had decided to produce were
recovered in a responsible manner. One would prevent the
restructuring costs of adapting to a new industry too large.
They also wanted resources to last longer.
Norway entered the oil age with good intentions for a
better society, without being too dependent on the oil.
However, there was disagreement on how to define a moderate
oil tempo. The SV and the intermediate parties went for 50
and 70 million tonnes of oil equivalents annually. A winning
coalition between the Labor Party and the Right put a limit
on oil extraction of 90 million tonnes of oil equivalent.
The term "moderate oil tempo" again came up in Storting
reports well into the 1980s. In 1988, when production
finally approached the ceiling, the Storting instead adopted
a ceiling on investments equivalent to NOK 25 billion
A turning point
The period towards the end of the 1980s and the beginning
of the 1990s marks a distinction in Norwegian oil policy.
Norway maintained a strict tax regime and a goal for oil
revenues to benefit the entire society. It was still
important that Norway regulate working conditions, safety
and the environment strictly and within the framework of
cooperation between government and non-governmental
institutions. In some areas, the institutional divide
between various state institutions relevant to the business
became even clearer.
But at a crucial point, such as regulating recovery and
investment rates, and the strong prioritization of Norwegian
companies and Norwegian industry that characterized the
first period, there was now a marked change. Many
protectionist measures were repealed. It should again be
easier for foreign companies to escape. They also faced a
gradual depoliticization of Statoil.
The new openness to foreign players was due to several
factors. Oil prices had fallen significantly in the late
1980s, and there was a perception that opportunities for
making new large discoveries were no longer as great. Thus,
it appeared more reasonable to facilitate the conditions for
foreign oil companies to take a greater part of the risk in
exploration. The change was also partly a consequence of the
success of the Norwegian oil industry. In addition to
Statoil's breakthrough as an operator at Statfjord and
Gullfaks, Norsk Hydro started production in the Oseberg
field in 1988. The third Norwegian oil company Saga
Petroleum was preparing to start up the Snorre field. Many
felt that the Norwegian supplier industry had become so
competitive that it could stand on its own, without support
However, the triggering cause for all formal
protectionist measures to be abolished was the preparation
for Norway's association with the European Economic Area
(EEA), which was negotiated from 1989 to 1992. The basic
principle of the EEA agreements was free competition for the
purchase of goods and services. The disputed section 54 of
the Royal Decree of 1972, which was later incorporated into
the Oil Act of 1985 in a rewritten form, was repealed.
Requirements for companies to establish subsidiaries in
Norway were also lifted. Workers with citizenship in
countries that were part of the EEA agreement should be able
to be hired on the same terms as Norwegian workers.