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Elections in Norway Decisive for Oil Drillers

Bottom Line: Norway’s September elections will likely end the battle over oil drilling off the Lofoten islands and pave the way most notably for Statoil ASA (STL) to drill for the estimated 3.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent in these waters.

Analysis: Right now, no one can drill off the protected Lofoten islands because junior partners in the governing Labor-led coalition have blocked all exploration here, while the Conservatives and Progress parties would green-light it if given the chance. We believe the issue will be decided definitively after September elections because the opposition Conservatives and Progress Party are poised to make bigger gains in the polls.

Recommendation: Follow this closely because the vote will be narrow. The most likely outcome is that the Conservatives and Progress Party will manage to form a minority government that will require support from the two other opposition parties. It would be enough power to get the coalition to fast-track an environmental impact study to get the exploration ball rolling. Polls right now show the four opposition parties in the lead, headed by Conservatives. Other opposition parties, though, like the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats are against drilling off Lofoten. Polls show that the Conservatives have 28.4% of support, while the Progress Party has 14.4% of support. The Liberals and Christian Democrats have only 4.8% and 5.4%, respectively. The pressure is on to allow drilling here…

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