Norway ‘to continue search for oil, gas’

Norway will continue to explore for oil and gas in the next four years, with most new drilling permits to come in mature regions of its oceans, the incoming government says.

A minority coalition of the Labour Party and the rural Centre Party will take power on Thursday after beating the ruling Conservative-led government in last month’s election.

“The Norwegian petroleum industry will be developed, not dismantled,” the two parties said in a joint policy document, adding that it will maintain the existing system of handing out exploration licences.

While climate change was a top issue debated during the campaign for parliament, Labour has said it wants to ensure any transition away from oil and gas, and the jobs it creates, is a gradual one.

Norway is western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer, pumping about four million barrels of oil equivalent per day and deriving half its export revenues from hydrocarbons so far this year.

Complicating the situation, the new minority government must seek support from opposition parties in parliament for its policies, however, some of which seek to curtail the oil industry’s drilling.

The agreement on the European Economic Area, allowing Norway to be part of the European single market without being a member of the European Union, will remain in place, said Jonas Gahr Stoere, who will become prime minister in the new government.

“The EEA agreement is the basis of our relationship with Europe,” Stoere told reporters.

But the government will discuss more often specific cases of EU rules and legislation for implementation, said his coalition partner Trygve Slagsvold Vedum.

“We do not want this privatisation of railways that the previous government has done,” Vedum told reporters.

“We will see the concrete cases as they come.”

The Fort News