Olav Akselsen

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Olav Akselsen
Olav Akselsen 2009.jpg
Minister of Petroleum and Energy
In office
17 March 2000 – 19 October 2001
MonarchHarald V
Prime MinisterJens Stoltenberg
Preceded byMarit Arnstad
Succeeded byEinar Steensnæs
Personal details
Born (1965-08-28) 28 August 1965 (age 54)
Stord, Hordaland County, Norway
Political partyLabour Party
Alma materUiB
OccupationMember of the Norwegian Parliament (1989–2009)
Director of the Norwegian Maritime Authority (2009–)

Olav Akselsen (born 28 August 1965) is Director General of Shipping and Navigation. Akselsen has served six terms in the Norwegian Parliament for the Norwegian Labour Party, and was Minister of Petroleum and Energy in the first cabinet Stoltenberg from 2000 to 2001.

National politics[edit]

1989 to 2001[edit]

Akselsen was first elected to the Norwegian Parliament in 1989, as the 14th representative from Hordaland county. He was re-elected in 1993 and 1997.[1]

Three years into his third term, the Centrist first cabinet Bondevik fell due to a failed motion of confidence. Jens Stoltenberg took over as Prime Minister, and selected Akselsen to his cabinet as Minister of Petroleum and Energy. During this period, Akselsen's seat in parliament was taken by Sigurd Grytten and Rita Tveiten, the latter for two weeks in 2001.[1]

The position of Minister of Petroleum and Energy was central in the first cabinet Stoltenberg, partly because the first cabinet Bondevik lost the motion of confidence because of unwillingness to build fossil fuel power plants. The parliamentary opposition, including the Labour Party, held this to be necessary,[2] and Akselsen had marked himself as a strong supporter of natural gas power plants.[3] He views the power plant at Mongstad as especially important.[4]

During Akselsen's tenure as Minister of Petroleum and Energy, the controversial part-privatization of the petroleum company Statoil also occurred.[5] In January 2004, he was revealed to be a member of the secret "Oil Group", an informal forum consisting of present and former Labour Party politicians as well as representatives from Norwegian business sector, especially oil companies.[6][7] On the other hand, in 2001 Akselsen retracted a permission to drill for oil in the Norwegian Sea outside of Lofoten.[8][9]

2001 to 2009[edit]

The first cabinet Stoltenberg did not survive the 2001 Norwegian parliamentary election, as a second cabinet Bondevik was formed. Akselsen, however, had entered the same election, and was re-elected for his fourth term.[1] He was re-elected again in 2005, but despite the return of Stoltenberg as Prime Minister, Akselsen was not selected to his cabinet—although stated to possess the "potential".[10]

From 1989 to 1993 Akselsen was, within the parliament, mainly a member of the Standing Committee on Justice, chairing it from April 1993. From 1993 to 1997 he was the secretary of the Standing Committee on Justice; from December 1996 he was also a member of the Enlarged Foreign Affairs Committee. From 1997 to 2001 he was a member of the Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment, chairing it from February to March 2000, at which point he became Minister of Petroleum and Energy. He was also a member of the 37-member Election Committee. From 2001 to 2005 he chaired the Standing Committee on Business and Industry, and from 2005 to 2009 he chaired both the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Enlarged Foreign Affairs Committee.[1][11]

One year before the 2009 Norwegian parliamentary election, Akselsen announced that he declined to stand for re-election. Norwegian election researcher Anders Todal Jenssen stated that his specific declination is "probably problematic for [Norwegian Prime Minister] Stoltenberg", at a time when 31 politicians of the present Red-Green Coalition had announced their withdrawal from Parliament.[10] In late August 2008 Akselsen was appointed director of the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, a position he took after his parliamentary term ran out in October 2009.[12]

Local politics[edit]

Before entering national politics, Akselsen had some experience in local politics. He was elected to the executive committee of the municipal council in his native Stord in 1983, was re-elected in 1987 but left in 1989 when entering the national parliament.[1]

From 1983 to 1985 he had chaired the local branch of the Workers' Youth League, the youth wing of the Labour Party. At the same time he was a member of the board of the Labour Party local chapter. He was a member of the board of the regional Hordaland party chapter from 1986 to 1988. After a hiatus from local politics he returned as leader of the local party chapter from 1998 to 2001.[1]

He also served on several public committees in Stord; pertaining to such matters as wild game, the environment, industry and equality. He was the deputy chair of some of this committees.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Olav Akselsen was born in Stord as the son of builder Arne Akselsen (born 1928) and his wife Aud Sortland (born 1932), who worked as an "assistant".[1]

He graduated from upper secondary school in 1984, took his examen philosophicum course at the University of Bergen in 1986 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in geography in 1988. Except for a tenure as a carpenter between 1986 and 1987,[1] Akselsen has very little work experience outside of political life. Because of this, commentators have referred to him as a "broiler",[13] a term referring to a person socialized mainly within a political party.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Olav Akselsen" (in Norwegian). Storting.
  2. ^ Thoresen, Jan (4 November 2004). "Sa ja til rekordutslipp". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  3. ^ Norwegian News Agency (17 February 2000). "Vil ha frie gasskraft-utslipp" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  4. ^ Ueland, Margunn (30 August 2006). "Vestlands-Ap krev gasskraft". Stavanger Aftenblad (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  5. ^ Norwegian News Agency (14 December 2000). "Statoil børsnoteres - staten beholder to tredeler" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  6. ^ Avisenes Nyhetsbyrå; Ulstein, Hege; Jan Inge Krossli, Geir Arne Bore (28 January 2004). "Skjult Ap-nettverk for oljeinteressene" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  7. ^ Horn, Anders (26 September 2007). "Oljegruppa lever videre". Klassekampen (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  8. ^ "Er valget fisk eller olje?". Aftenposten (in Norwegian). 1 December 2003. Archived from the original on April 5, 2004. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  9. ^ "Vil verne Lofoten". NRK (in Norwegian). 26 September 2005. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  10. ^ a b Krekling, David Vojislav; Heidi Schei Lilleås (14 August 2008). "Masseflukt fra Jens". Nettavisen (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2008-08-28.
  11. ^ For more on the committees, see The Standing Committees at Stortinget.no
  12. ^ "Ny sjøfartsdirektør" (in Norwegian). 22 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  13. ^ "Utskiftinger i Ap" (in Norwegian). 14 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
Political offices
Preceded by
Marit Arnstad
Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy
Succeeded by
Einar Steensnæs