Chapter 9: A Case of Regulatory Taming in Norway: From Government Petroleum Fund to Ethical Pension Fund – Global
9.1 THE NORWEGIAN PETROLEUM SECTOR1 Petroleum was discovered in the North Sea in 1969. Production began in June 1971, and in the following years a number of major offshore petroleum discoveries were made all the way up along the economic zone to the Barents Sea. Today, there are more than 50 fields in production on the Norwegian continental shelf. But this development began earlier than that. In 1962, Philips Petroleum sent an application to the Norwegian government in order to explore oil opportunities in the North Sea. The international company asked for a license for the part of the North Sea that could possibly be included in the Norwegian shelf. The offer was for USD 160 000 per month (www.regjeringen.no). The government interpreted the offer as the company’s attempt to secure exclusive rights and thus it did not accept. It was out of the question for the authorities, then, to allow a single company to monopolize the shelf. A regulatory policy was formulated; if the areas were to be opened for exploration, then more companies had to be involved. Moreover, Norway was at that time confronted with two main challenges: the lack of test seismic and drilling competence and capacity and the lack of international recognition of its ownership. In May 1963, the government proclaimed sovereignty on the Norwegian continental shelf. New regulations determined both that the Norwegian State was the sole owner of any natural resources and that only the government is authorized to allocate licenses for exploration and...
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