Norway eyes "end of oil" in eight years

Published Aug 11, 2009
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Ekofisk area

Norwegian leaders at the top of a bloated bureaucracy — much of it devoted to controlling, monitoring and planning oil production — are under fire after a new report suggests oil-rich Norway has just eight more years worth of oil.

The advent of “peak oil” in Norway appears to have caught the bureaucracy off guard, although successive governments have been more and more vocal about boosting production.

That was a mistake, says oil researcher Helge Ryggvik.

“With today’s production tempo, we have oil for eight more years if we don’t find more,” Ryggvik says.

“(Norway stands) at the precipice,” he told newspaper Dagbladet.

He blames politicians, mainly Labour Prime Minister Jen Stoltenberg, who he says relied on oil money in times of crisis, including last year’s finance crunch and a bank crisis of the 1990’s.

Last year, state oil champion StatoilHydro — two-thirds state-owned and just one of the stately oilfield entities lubricating Norwegian society — had trouble replacing reserves, and company boss Helge Lund warned oil production was in freefall.

A series of smallish oil finds in 2009 nevertheless have raised hopes of slowing the decline of oil in a country where some three million adults share as much oil and gas wealth as Russia shares between 10 time zones and 150 million people.

The fear in the Nordic country is that the economy hasn’t diversified enough ahead of oil’s demise, and that gas would go into hyper-production to cover the costs of the country’s fat bureaucracy. About one in two Norwegians works in a public sector job, or 48 percent.

“We’ve had record-high investments and record-high apportioning of concessions. Production is falling just the same,” said Ryggvik, who is understood to have based much of his work on BP’s annual statistical review.

It’s not clear how the analyst treated the expected production the big long-life oilfields like Ekofisk, Goliat, Troll and Valhall. They're expected to produce for decades to come.

Meanwhile, Norwegian authorities recently saw the end of their commissioned geophysical survey in the pristine waters around the picturesque Lofoten archipelago, an area highly prized by the oil industry for promising geology.

Oil exploration in the area would likely attract some protests from the country’s influencial Green organizations, although all political parties are keen to open the area to drilling.



1 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Simon Souyris Strumse
Aug 21, 2009 16:26 [ 1 ]

This article contains factual faults. The last comment stating that all political parties are keen to open the lofoten area for drilling is wrong. The drilling projects outside of Lofoten and Vesterålen is one of the great environmental conflicts in the Norwegian national elections, and the Socialist left party, the center party, the Liberal party, The party Red, the Greens and the christian democrats opose offshore drilling in these vulnerable areas. Though only the Socialist left party is believed to have the power and will to stop the oil industry in these areas.

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