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A story about pioneers and politicians who made history

It was by no means obvious that tiny Norway would become a significant energy nation. But the sum of wise decisions led to a crucial decision in Parliament on 14 June 1972.

"We hope the production test results will be positive and that this will add Norway to the list of oil-producing nations." Prime minister Trygve Bratteli was humble when opening Norway's first oil field in 1971. It was Phillips Petroleum's merit that the prime minister could stand on the Ekofisk field in the North Sea, far from the shores of Norway. The company applied for a permit to explore the Norwegian continental shelf for hydrocarbons as early as 1962. In 1969 it finally found what it was looking for: the first commercially viable oil discovery in Norwegian waters.

Prime Minister Trygve Bratteli, to the right, on his way to the opening of Ekofisk in June 1971.
Photo: Knut S. Vindfallet

The years of intense pioneering work and substantial investments from the Americans were hailed in the prime minister's speech. Bratteli talked about the responsibility that follows the management of natural resources. He called it a milestone for Norway's economy and said it had to benefit the entire society. He talked about environmental considerations and firm government control. And not least, he spoke of the importance of key principles for managing the oil and gas business.

One year after the opening, Norway's Parliament met. The guidelines for a new industry – the ten commandments of oil – had already been drawn up. The lawmakers were going to decide whether Norway should establish its own professional body – a petroleum directorate – and a state-owned oil company. This should safeguard the State's commercial interests and facilitate cooperation with national and international actors in the oil industry. After two long days in Parliament, the massive proposal was adopted. It was decided to establish the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and the Norwegian State's oil company. The decision was unanimous. This was 50 years ago, on 14 June 1972.

The resolution was the sum of wise decisions that turned tiny Norway into a substantial energy nation.

But what now?

We are now facing the biggest challenge of our time – the climate crisis. Equinor's ambition is to continue to supply society with energy with a lower carbon footprint and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Together we will develop new energy, and we will create new industries. This is important, and it is necessary. The energy transition will require new forms of cooperation. It will require courage. It will require pioneering work. And it will require wise decisions.

There is not yet enough renewable energy in the world. But fortunately, ideas are also renewable, and new solutions are realised at a rapid pace. The decision from 1972 ensures that Norway is in an excellent position for this transition. We can thank foresighted politicians for that.

This is one of many stories from our first 50 years. It is also part of the story of how we will succeed with the energy transition.

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