Norway wouldn’t be the country it is today without oil and gas. We take a look back at the history of the country’s petroleum industry.
Norwegian oil and gas is Norway’s largest and most important industry. Overall it accounts for between 40 and 70% of exports.
But just how did a small fishing nation in the North Sea become the 8th largest producer of oil and 3rd largest producer of natural gas in the world? The story takes us all the way back to the 1960s.
Before 1959, no one had any hopes that the Norway’s Continental Shelf (NCS) would be a major source of oil and gas. This all changed in 1959 when gas was discovered at Groningen in the Netherlands.
The first company, Phillips Petroleum, applied in 1962 to explore the NCS for possible oil and gas resources. Their offer was seen as an attempt to lock up the entire area for one company. Norway’s government rejected this idea and were keen on opening up the resources to several different companies.
In 1963, the Norwegian government proclaimed sovereignty over all natural resources in the area and started issuing licenses to explore for potential oil fields but not to drill.
In 1965, once issues of how to divide up the shelf with Norway and Great Britain were resolved, the first drilling licenses were awarded.
The first well was drilled in 1966 but it was found to be dry. Over the next few years, the same story came from over 200 exploratory drills. Things were looking slightly bleak until, 1969, Phillips drilled in Ekofisk. This would turn out to be one of the major oilfields on the NCS.