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The ten oil commandments

The 10 Oil Commandments railroad guru Rolf Hellem wrote back in the 1970s have become an important foundation for Norwegian oil policy.

The same year that humans landed on the moon, taking their first steps out into the stars, what was then the world's largest offshore oil field was discovered in Norway’s subsurface universe on the continental shelf. The discovery of Ekofisk posed vast opportunities for little Norway.

For many years, a railway man stood at the train station in Narvik, watching the comings and goings of ore trains from Kiruna in Sweden. Rolf Hellem was a station inspector and politically active. In 1965, the same year the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) was opened for oil exploration, Hellem was elected to the Norwegian parliament (Storting). He soon developed an interest in petroleum policy, and was the parliamentary spokesman for the process to establish the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and Statoil on 14 June 1972. After the discovery of Ekofisk, he wrote the ten oil commandments. Hellem's commandments were adopted by the Storting, and became an important foundation for the petroleum policy Norway would implement. Perhaps not so surprising that Rolf Hellem came to be called the Moses of petroleum policy.

  1. National stewardship and control must be secured for all activities on the NCS.
  2. Petroleum discoveries shall be utilised such that Norway achieves maximum independence from others as regards access to crude oil.
  3. New business activity shall be developed with a basis in petroleum.
  4. The development of an oil industry must be founded on necessary considerations for existing business activity, nature conservation and environmental protection.
  5. Flaring of unusable gas on the NCS must not be accepted, with the exception of brief trial periods.
  6. Petroleum from the NCS shall generally be landed in Norway, except in certain specific cases where socio-political considerations provide a basis for a different solution.
  7. The State shall be involved at all appropriate levels, contribute to coordination of Norwegian interests within the Norwegian petroleum industry and the construction of a Norwegian, integrated petroleum community with national as well as international objectives.
  8. A state oil company shall be established to safeguard the State's commercial interests and engage in appropriate collaboration with domestic and foreign oil interests.
  9. North of the 62nd parallel, the chosen activity pattern shall be in keeping with the special socio-political factors associated with that region.
  10. Norwegian petroleum discoveries may lead to broader perspectives for Norwegian foreign policy.
Source: "The ten oil commandments"

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