News, Oil & Gas

An Adventure Through The Milestones of the First 40 years

The Ekofisk field was first discovered 40 years ago. This discovery marks the start of Norway's status as an oil nation. In this article you will receive an initial historical summary as well as a quick review of some of...

1963 Norwegian Sovereignty:
On May 31, 1963, it was determined that Norway had sovereignty in terms of exploring and extracting undersea natural reserves on the Norwegian continental shelf. Norway was the sole owner and only the King could give permission for exploration and recovering of natural resources.

1965 The shelf is divided:
An agreement between Norway and Great Britain was reached in March of 1965 that specified that the continental shelf would be divided according to the middle line principle. In December of the same year, a similar agreement was made with Denmark.

1966 The first rig arrives in Norway:
The semi-submersible drilling vessel, Ocean Traveller was towed from New Orleans, USA to Norway. Drilling started in July, 1966, but no oil or gas was discovered.

1969 Bingo:
On December 23, 1969 Phillips informs the Norwegian government of discoveries at Ekofisk – one of the largest oil fields that have ever been discovered offshore. In June of 1970, the discovery was made public. The yearly oil production from Ekofisk would be twice the size of the domestic oil consumption and Norway would become, in the course of just a few years, an oil exporting country.

1971 Gas field:
The Frigg field was discovered. The field was exclusively a gas field that was situated on the border between Norway and Great Britain. The Norwegian stake was the largest and therefore it was decided that Norway would operate the field in cooperation with French Elf Aquitaine.

1972 Statoil:
The government establishes the entirely government-owned oil company, Statoil with main offices in Stavanger. Statoil’s objective was to become a fully operative oil company as quickly as possible and be responsible for oil exploration, production of oil and gas, as well as processing and marketing of petroleum products.

1974 A giant is discovered:
The Statfjord field is discovered. The field is one of the world’s largest offshore oil fields containing mainly oil, but also a substantial amount of gas. The field is primarily located on the Norwegian shelf, but is also partially on the British shelf. All of the production facilities are located in Norwegian domain and the field is run from Norway with StatoilHydro as operator. (Mobil was the operator before 1987)

1979 Statfjord in operation:
The first of the three largest concrete platforms began producing oil. The Statfjord field was called the “jewel in the crown” in Norwegian oil operations because of its immense size. The field is still the world’s largest offshore oil field.

A colossal field:
The tremendous oil field Troll is discovered. The Troll field contains approximately 1.300 billion cubic of gas. The first long-term agreements were already made in 1986 securing terms for sale of gas from the Troll field to buyers on the continent. It took all of 27 years from the field was discovered until production commenced. When the field began delivering gas to Europe in 1996, Norway became one of the world’s largest energy suppliers. Each year Troll produces 3.5 times more energy than the hydroelectric plants in Norway.

Norway is the 5th largest exporter of oil and the 3rd largest exporter of natural gas.© Hydro/Statoilhydro

1981 Findings in the Norwegian Sea:
Oil is discovered for the first time outside of Haltenbanken in mid-Norway.

1984 Further north:
The Snow White field in the Barents Sea is discovered. The parliament decided to establish the Government Direct Economical Interest (SDØE) for offshore petroleum activity. Statoil’s stake in a series of fields was transferred directly from Statoil to the Department of Finance. The reason for this was that income from oil exceeded previous calculations and that it was deemed incorrect that all of the government’s income should be first placed in Statoil’s account. The income from SDØE is for all practical purposes the oil fund. (The government’s retirement fund abroad)

1986 Gas:
The parliament determined that the gas field Sleipner East and Troll should be developed. With this decision Norway was well on its way to becoming a gas producing nation, and would eventually be one of the most prominent exporters of energy to all of the large consumers in Western Europe.

1987 Statoil takes over:
Statoil took over operational responsibility for the Statfjord field. The experience and competency that Statoil had acquired during the development of the field was a determining factor for further development as an operator on the Norwegian shelf and international activity. The Statfjord field had provided both Statoil and the Norwegian government with enormous income during these years.

1991 The focus is on the environment:
Quotas for Co2 were introduced. The oil industry has continually initiated a number of measures to reduce emissions from production on the shelf as the years have passed.

1996 Troll:
Gas delivery from the Troll field begins. Along with the deliveries from Sleipner that had started 3 years prior, Norway became a power to reckon with in the European gas market and was second only to Russia.

1997 Gas findings:
The final large discovery of gas on the Norwegian shelf is announced, Ormen Lange was established.

2000 All time high:
The Norwegian shelf reached (for the time being) a stop in oil production. The government was hoping for increased exploration activity and designed regulations that made it attractive for new companies to set their sights on the Norwegian shelf.

Laying the Langeled pipeline at the Sleipner A platform in the North Sea. This transport facility can meet 20% of UK gas requirements in coming years. © Statoil

2001 Stock exchange listing:
On June 18, 2001 Statoil was listed on the stock exchange and the government sells out some of their property. However, it is stipulated that the government shall own at least 2/3 of the company.

Petoro is established:
The completely government-owned share company, Petoro, is established in order to manage the SDØE portfolio (also mentioned in 1984).Petoro becomes one of the world’s largest oil companies as measured according to the company’s shares in oil and gas fields. However, the sale of the company’s oil and gas is still administrated by Statoil. The net income of the companies business is transferred directly to the State Treasury. Petoro is located in Stavanger.

2002 Gassco:
On January 1, 2002 the completely government-owned company, Gassco, is established to take over responsibility for operations of pipelines and address questions related to transportation at the gas plants. The pipeline network on the continental shelf is jointly owned by the oil companies. The new company would be solely responsible for systems operations, license administration and control of the total infrastructure on the Norwegian shelf. In other words, Gassco would be responsible for ensuring that gas is delivered to the orders placed by customers. The company is not to be involved in processing of natural gas or any other industrial activity aside from the transport/delivery functions. Gassco has its main office at Karmøy in Rogaland.

2004 New control unit:
In January, 2004 the security and control functions were separated from the Oil Directory to secure impartiality from the reserve and production interests. The Petroleum Control becomes an independent control unit for health, environment and security on the Norwegian shelf.

2005 The end of an era:
The dismantling of the Frigg field is initiated. Frigg was the first large gas field in production on the Norwegian shelf, and had platforms in Norway and Great Britain. The border between the two countries was crossed with the use of a footbridge between the platforms.

2007 Production start and fusions:
Production from the gas fields at Ormen Lange and Snow White start. Statoil and the petroleum interests at Norsk Hydro fuse under the name of StatoilHydro. It is expected that the company will change its name back to Statoil in the course of 2010. Snow White is the productive field located farthest north and the well flows from the field is the world’s longest multiphase stream – in other words, gas, water and light oil components flow untreated in the same pipeline.

2009 Still viable:
Norway celebrates the first 40 years as a producer of oil and gas. The industry is the country’s most important industry and employs directly and indirectly, 250,000 people across the country.