40 years of oil: This year marks an important anniversary for Norway

By Christy Olsen Field
Norwegian American Weekly

Photo: Norwegian Petroleum Directorate 1970: Industry minister Sverre W. Rostoft proudly displays the first petrol made from Norwegian oil—a few drops from Balder.

Photo: Norwegian Petroleum Directorate 1970: Industry minister Sverre W. Rostoft proudly displays the first petrol made from Norwegian oil—a few drops from Balder.

Forty years ago, oil was discovered in Norway after many years of exploring. As of 1969, the oil companies were on the verge of giving up. The drilling rig Ocean Viking was going to drill one last well, and this last-ditch effort for a well ended up changing the Norwegian society and the lives of every Norwegian.

“We have taken good advantage of the opportunities we were given back then. We have shown responsibility, and we have made sure that Norway is now one of the best countries in the world to live in,” says Kristin Bremer Nebben, OLF’s director of communications and government relations.

This year, the oil and gas industry wants each and every citizen of Norway to share their story. Thanks to the Web site www.oljenorge40ar.no, 4.7 million “blopps” (personal blogs) have been set up for people to blog their own part of Norway’s oil history. “Every single Norwegian has reaped the benefits of prudent management of the assets below the seabed. For some it has meant good healthcare, for others, an interesting job… The oil and gas industry wants everyone to share in this national celebration. That is why we are inviting all Norwegians to tell their own part of the oil story,” says Bremer Nebben.

In December 2009, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) will publish a book telling the people’s oil and gas history.

1973: The first oil crisis brings car-free days and petrol rationing - and Norway’s King Olav takes the tram.

1973: The first oil crisis brings car-free days and petrol rationing - and Norway’s King Olav takes the tram.

1978: Responsibility for petroleum matters passes from the industry ministry’s oil department to the new Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. Bjartmar Gjerde (pictured right) becomes Norway’s first petroleum and energy minister.

1978: Responsibility for petroleum matters passes from the industry ministry’s oil department to the new Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. Bjartmar Gjerde (pictured right) becomes Norway’s first petroleum and energy minister.

Here is a timeline of significant events in Norway’s oil and gas history:

1958: In a letter from the Norwegian Geological Survey to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1958, “Man kan se bort fra mulighetene for at det skulle finnes kull, olje eller svovel på kontinentalsokkelen langs den norske kyst” (The chance of finding coal, oil, or sulphur on the continental shelf off the Norwegian coast can be discounted).

1965: In March, Norway and Great Britain hold talks to determine the borders for Norwegian continental shelf. In December, similar talks are made with Denmark.

1966: The first oil drilling ring, named “Ocean Traveler,” is installed 180 kilometers southwest of Stavanger. The Esso platform did not find oil or gas, but discovered some geological sediment that indicates petroleum reserves.

1969: Oil is discovered on Dec. 23 by the Phillips Petroleum oil rig “Ocean Viking” in the Ekofisk oil field, which is one of the largest oil fields found in the ocean.

1971: Oil production is in full swing at the Ekofisk oil field.

1972: Statoil is established to secure Norwegian sovereignty over its rich offshore resources. Arve Johnsen serves as its chief executive.

1973: Members of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) boycotts countries in support of Israel during the Yom Kippur war, setting off a worldwide oil crisis.

1977: On April 22, the first oil blowout takes place in the Ekofisk field, and took eight days to regain control. The international community reacted strongly, and the incident laid the groundwork for the strict environmental rules for the Norwegian oil industry.

1981: Oil discovered in the Norwegian Sea.

1984: Snøhvit oil field is discovered in the Barents Sea in Northern Norway.

1986: The Storting supports the development of the gas fields in Sleipner East and Troll in efforts to establish Norway as a gas country in addition to oil.

1996: Norway is a leader in the European gas market, and becomes the second largest gas exporter to Russia.

1997: Ormen Lange oil field begins development, and recognized as the last large oil field within Norwegian borders.

1999: Oil and gas industry museum established in Stavanger.

2001: Statoil makes its debut on Oslo Børs (Oslo’s stock exchange) on June 18.

2005: The Frigg field stops production. Frigg was the first gas field in production in Norway, and had platforms both in Norway and Great Britain.

2009: 40th anniversary of the Norwegian oil and gas industry, which is recognized as Norway’s most important industry. The oil and gas industry in Norway directly and indirectly employs over 250,000 people.

To learn more about the Norwegian oil and gas industry and its 40th anniversary, visit www.oljenorge40ar.no. For further information, visit www.olf.no.

This article was originally published in the Norwegian American Weekly on June 26, 2009. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email subscribe@norway.com.

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