Baby boom after Snøhvit
Clear signs can now be seen that trends have turned in a positive direction for Hammerfest in northern Norway after years of population decline and job losses.
The port which hosts Statoil’s Snøhvit development in the Barents Sea has witnessed a recent rise in the number of children born there – from 93 in 2001 to 124 last year.
That contrasts with a slight decline in the number of births for the surrounding county of Finnmark, from 970 in 2001 to 880 last year.
Henrik Carlsen, senior vice president for Statoil’s Barents Sea commitment, regards the birth statistics for Hammerfest as gratifying.
“We can’t attribute all trends in the Hammerfest region solely to the Snøhvit project, but it’s nevertheless pleasing to see that the number of births has changed since we started.”
Population figures from Statistics Norway in recent years show a positive development. Emigration has reversed, the number of residents is rising and more people have work thanks to Snøhvit.
“The social gains from this project should be positive food for thought in the continued discussion on business development in northern Norway,” says Mr Carlsen.
“A successful policy for increased oil activity will affect many other economic indicators, such as housebuilding, company start-ups and transport demand.”
He is taking part today, 6 December, in a seminar organised by Troms county council on the subject of petroleum developments and environmental challenges in the far north.
Annual value creation at the Hammerfest LNG plant on Melkøya, which will process and liquefy Snøhvit gas, is put at NOK 7.7 billion.
Roughly 230 people will work at the facility in the operating phase, while employment in Finnmark is expected to increase by about 400 work-years as a result of the development.
“The most important consideration is nevertheless that Hammerfest and the region have recovered their optimism,” says Mr Carlsen.
“They’ve regained a belief in the possibility of success, after a long period of declining population growth, emigration and loss of jobs.
“Growing optimism is parallelled by the effect of people daring to make a commitment to the future, and the growth in population.
“The competence of the local workforce will also be upgraded through changes in the industrial structure and the arrival of highly-educated workers from other parts of Norway.”