The Conservative ruling party of Norway yesterday won re-election for the first time since 1985, in a vote where oil policies took center stage, as befits Europe’s largest oil and gas producer.
It was a narrow win, however, for Erna Solberg’s tax-cutting, oil industry-stimulating platform. To win, the Conservative Party joined forces with the populist Progressive Party as well as two smaller parties from the center-right. These will have a say in future policies, including on oil, and the industry may suffer some blows.
The center-right coalition partners, although small, could have a big say in future policy proposals as the Conservatives will need their support to gain the necessary majority to pass legislation in parliament. The most important player in the game may well turn out to be the Green Party.
As Oilprice reported before the elections, a new coalition may propel the small Green Party—which currently holds just one seat in the 169-seat Parliament—to the role of holding the key to forming a government, and kingmaker of Norway’s future economic choices and policies, if it stays true to its pledge to demand a high price for its support of a government.
For the oil industry, this is not such good news, because the Greens are strongly opposed to oil drilling, and propose to stop opening new oil and gas fields for exploration on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, and phase out petroleum activities over a 15-year period.
The other center-right party that will support the Conservatives are the Liberals, who are also against an expansion of drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic.
The Barents Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean, holds two-thirds of Norway’s undiscovered oil and gas, which makes it a top priority for energy firms. It also makes it a top target for environmentalists and green-minded politicians. The fact that Statoil recently said it had failed to find any oil in an exploration well in one of the most promising areas of the Barents Sea, Korpfjell, would only strengthen the anti-drilling argument.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.