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 North Sea oil

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.

In 2011, Norway was the eighth largest crude oil exporter in the world, and the 9th largest exporter of refined oil. It was also the world´s third largest natural gas exporter, having significant gas reserves in the North Sea. Norway also possesses some of the world´s largest potentially exploitable coal reserves (located under the Norwegian continental shelf) on earth. 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 fuels.

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.

The offshore shipping companies are becoming an increasingly important segment of Norway´s maritime industry. Combined, they control the world´s most advanced offshore fleet, consisting of some 500 ships, of which around 60 per cent sail under the Norwegian flag.

Statoil was formed by the 2007 merger of Statoil with the oil and gas division of Norsk Hydro. As of 2013, the Government of Norway is the largest shareholder in Statoil with 67% of the shares, while the rest is public stock. The ownership interest is managed by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. The company is headquartered and led from Stavanger, while most of their international operations are currently led from Fornebu.

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