Energy in Norway

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A StatoilHydro oil platform in the North Sea

Since the discovery of North Sea oil in Norwegian waters during the late 1960s, exports of oil and gas have become very important elements of the economy of Norway. With North Sea oil production having peaked, disagreements over exploration for oil in the Barents Sea, the prospect of exploration in the Arctic, as well as growing international concern over global warming, energy in Norway is currently receiving close attention.


Energy in Norway [1]
Capita Prim. energy Production Export Electricity CO2-emission
Million TWh TWh TWh TWh Mt
2004 4.59 322 2,775 2,452 113 36.3
2007 4.71 312 2,488 2,172 118 36.9
2008 4.77 345 2,555 2,195 119 37.6
2009 4.83 328 2,485 2,157 114 37.3
2010 4.89 377 2,390 2,004 123 39.2
2012 4.95 327 2,272 1,929 115 38.1
2012R 5.02 339 2.313 1.963 118.7 36.2
2013 5.08 380 2.229 1.839 118.5 35.3
Change 2004-10 6.5 % 17.3 % -13.9 % -18.3 % 8.8 % 7.9 %
Mtoe = 11,63 TWh Prim. energy includes energy losses

2012R = CO2 calculation criteria changed, numbers updated

Fossil fuels[edit]

In 2011, Norway was the eighth largest crude oil exporter in the world (at 78Mt), and the 9th largest exporter of refined oil (at 86Mt). It was also the world's third largest natural gas exporter (at 99bcm), having significant gas reserves in the North Sea.[2][3] Norway also possesses some of the world's largest potentially exploitable coal reserves (located under the Norwegian continental shelf) on earth.[4]

Three million barrels of oil adds 1.3 Mt of CO2 per day to the atmosphere as it is consumed, 474 Mt/year.[citation needed] Thus the global CO2 impact of Norway's activities is significant. Much of the CO2 creation happens outside of Norway's borders, from Norwegian fossil fuel exports.

North Sea oil[edit]

Source: Norwegian Central Bureau of Statistics
Natural gas production in Norway (red) and natural gas exports (black)

In May 1963, Norway asserted sovereign rights over natural resources in its sector of the North Sea. Exploration started on July 19, 1966, when Ocean Traveller drilled its first hole. Initial exploration was fruitless, until Ocean Viking found oil on August 21, 1969. By the end of 1969, it was clear that there were large oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. The first oil field was Ekofisk, which produced 427,442 barrels of crude in 1980. Subsequently, large natural gas reserves have also been discovered.

Against the backdrop of the 1972 Norwegian referendum to not join the European Union, the Norwegian Ministry of Industry, headed by Ola Skjåk Bræk moved quickly to establish a national energy policy. Norway decided to stay out of OPEC, keep its own energy prices in line with world markets, and spend the revenue—known as the "currency gift"—in the Petroleum Fund of Norway. The Norwegian government established its own oil company, Statoil, and awarded drilling and production rights to Norsk Hydro and the newly formed Saga Petroleum.

The North Sea turned out to present many technological challenges for production and exploration, and Norwegian companies invested in building capabilities to meet these challenges. A number of engineering and construction companies emerged from the remnants of the largely lost shipbuilding industry, creating centers of competence in Stavanger and the western suburbs of Oslo. Stavanger also became the land-based staging area for the offshore drilling industry.

Barents Sea oil[edit]

In March 2005, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Petersen stated that the Barents Sea, off the coast of Norway and Russia, may hold one third of the world's remaining undiscovered oil and gas.[5] Also in 2005, the moratorium on exploration in the Norwegian sector, imposed in 2001 due to environmental concerns, was lifted following a change in government.[6] A terminal and liquefied natural gas plant is now being constructed at Snøhvit and, as the Arctic ice cap shrinks due to global warming, it is thought that Snøhvit may also act as a future staging post for oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean.[7]

Electricity generation[edit]

The Rånåsfoss power station (98MW) on the Glomma River. Norway's 1,166 hydroelectric generating stations provide between 98% and 99% of the country's power supply.

Electricity generation in Norway is almost entirely from hydroelectric power plants. Of the total production in 2005 of 137.8 TWh, 136 TWh was from hydroelectric plants, 0.86 TWh was from thermal power, and 0.5 TWh was wind generated. In 2005 the total consumption was 125.8 TWh.[1]

Norway was the first country to generate electricity commercially using sea-bed tidal power. A 300 kilowatt prototype underwater turbine started generation in the Kvalsund, south of Hammerfest, on November 13, 2003. [2] [3]

Since 6 May 2008, the Norwegian and Dutch electricity grids are interconnected by NorNed submarine HVDC (450 kilovolts) cable with a capacity of 700 megawatts. [4]

Carbon emissions[edit]

Despite producing the majority of its electricity from hydroelectric plants, Norway is ranked 30th in the 2008 list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita and 37th in the 2004 list of countries by ratio of GDP to carbon dioxide emissions. Norway is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, under which it agreed to reduce its carbon emissions to no more than 1% above 1990 levels by 2012.

On April 19, 2007, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg announced to the Labour Party annual congress that Norway's greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by 10 percent more than its Kyoto commitment by 2012, and that the government had agreed to achieve emission cuts of 30% by 2020. He also proposed that Norway should become carbon neutral by 2050, and called upon other rich countries to do likewise.[8] This carbon neutrality would be achieved partly by carbon offsetting, a proposal criticised by Greenpeace, who also called on Norway to take responsibility for the 500m tonnes of emissions caused by its exports of oil and gas.[9] World Wildlife Fund Norway also believes that the purchase of carbon offsets is unacceptable, saying "it is a political stillbirth to believe that China will quietly accept that Norway will buy climate quotas abroad".[10] The Norwegian environmental activist Bellona Foundation believes that the prime minister was forced to act due to pressure from anti-European Union members of the coalition government, and called the announcement "visions without content".[10]

In January 2008 the Norwegian government went a step further and declared a goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. But the government has not been specific about any plans to reduce emissions at home; the plan is based on buying carbon offsets from other countries.[11]

Carbon capture and storage[edit]

Norway was the first country to operate an industrial-scale carbon capture and storage storage project at the Sleipner oilfield, dating from 1996 and operated by Statoil. Carbon dioxide is stripped from natural gas with amine solvents and is deposited in a saline formation. The carbon dioxide is a waste product of the field's natural gas production; the gas contains 9% CO2, more than is allowed in the natural gas distribution network. Storing it underground avoids this problem and saves Statoil hundreds of millions of euros in carbon taxes. Sleipner stores about one million tonnes of CO2 a year.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ IEA Key World Energy Statistics Statistics 2015, 2014 (2012R as in November 2015 + 2012 as in March 2014 is comparable to previous years statistical calculation criteria, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2006 IEA October, crude oil p.11, coal p. 13 gas p. 15
  2. ^ Key World Energy Statistics. 2011 Edition, International Energy Agency
  3. ^ Norway: Energy and Power, Encyclopedia of the Nations
  4. ^ 3000 billion tons of coal off Norway's coastline, by R.J. Wideroe & J.D.Sundberg, Energy Bulletin by Verdens Gang, 29 December 2005
  5. ^ Petersen, Jan (2005-03-05). "Transatlantic Efforts for Peace and Security". Speech to Carnegie Institution, Washington D.C. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway. Retrieved 2010-08-05. The Barents Sea also contains huge energy resources – perhaps as much as one third of the world's remaining undiscovered oil and gas resources are to be found in this area 
  6. ^ Acher, John (2005-11-16). "Norway Takes Oil Bids For Barents Sea Frontier". World Environment News Planet Ark. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  7. ^ Krauss, Clifford; Myers, Steven Lee; Revkin; Romero, Simon (2005-10-10). "As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  8. ^ "Speech to the congress of the Labour Party". Office of the Prime Minister of Norway. 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  9. ^[dead link]
  10. ^ a b Archived September 29, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Rosenthal, Elisabeth (2008-03-22). "Lofty Pledge to Cut Emissions Comes With Caveat in Norway". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  12. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]