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.
The power of cooperation
For 50 years, Norwegian waters have been the centre of world-class technological development. All across the country, both large and small companies have contributed. Also far away from the great depths of the continental shelf. Now a new, green chapter is being written in industrial Norway.
Narvik: Almost 60 years have passed since railway deputy Rolf Hellem stood here and watched the fully loaded trains coming from Kiruna, Sweden. The trains were full of ore. From Narvik, the ore was sent out to the world as a basis for other jobs and industries. Narvik as a society was built around this industry.
In 1965, Hellem was elected as a member of Parliament. Norway was in the midst of industrial change, and permits had been issued to search for oil and gas off Norway’s coast. The large Ekofisk field was discovered in the North Sea four years later. The discovery changed Norway forever. Hellem, who had seen the ore industry shape Narvik, was determined to make certain that these resources be utilised for the good of the entire Norwegian society.
In his small apartment in Oslo, he scribbled down a list that would later form the basis for large parts of Norway's oil and gas policy. The list was called “The Ten Oil Commandments”.
It has barely gotten started
Since the development of hydropower in the 1880s, Norway has been an energy nation. Today Norway is among the countries that has managed its natural resources in the best possible way. But a new era has come. The world is in a global climate crisis, and it is urgent to reduce emissions.
In Norway, this enormous task is still based on one of Hellem’s ten commandments. The third commandment reads as follows:
“New businesses are to be developed based on the petroleum industry.”
At the same time as it developed into an oil nation, Norway developed industry along the entire Norwegian coast. Tiny Norway built world-class technology and industrial environments based on the oil and gas business.
But even today Rolf Hellem’s third commandment is often cited. Future industry must build on over 50 years of oil and gas experience. The history of industry and jobs with a Norwegian offshore address is far from over.
The industrial adventure of the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea has really only just begun.
The energy transition in the mountain village of Skjåk
Skjåk: Surrounded by mountains on all sides, Skjåk is strategically located between Stryn and Nordfjord, Geiranger and Sunnmøre, Vågå and Lom.
It is far away from the smell of salt water and seaweed, and just as far from the view of the North Sea rigs and supply vessels.
In the tiny, rural municipality, 16 people work in the mechanical industry at Stryvo Bismo. It is one of many suppliers, spread across all of Norway’s counties, that has contributed to the Norwegian continental shelf over the past 50 years. With long experience in delivering industrial filters to the oil and gas industry, the small company has started to deliver something completely different. On the British side of the North Sea, the world’s largest offshore wind farm will soon be in place. Dogger Bank – where Equinor and partners are developing enough wind power to supply more than 5 million households annually – needs supplies from the mountain village.
“The filters we deliver are built on the same principles that were developed in the 1990s, which we have supplied to the oil and gas industry for years. They fit directly into the offshore wind segment,” said Stryvo CEO Jostein Bøe.
The company has a long, typically Norwegian history. It started with three brothers in a farm cellar – and in the 1950s, became a one-man show in a forge in Stryn. Now the company has built itself up to become an industrial supplier that does its utmost to place itself at both ends of the scale. On the one hand, it must deliver so solidly that it is the last one standing among Norwegian suppliers in its area. At the same time, it needs to establish itself in new markets.
Today Stryvo has 95 employees spread around the country.
“That might not be many jobs in the great scheme of things. But 50 employees deep in the fjord at Stryn are important district workplaces. So are the 16 jobs in Skjåk,” he says.
Stryvo is now looking to establish new markets. After building up expertise and experience in oil and gas, it can also deliver to new industries.
While emissions must be reduced, the world needs more energy and new solutions to fight the climate crisis. For Norway’s part, this means large-scale offshore wind development, creating commercial value chains in hydrogen, and using the underground under the North Sea to store CO2.
Stryvo has gotten acquainted with all of the new segments. It has helped build a prototype for carbon capture, and is are about to enter a hydrogen project.
"We will continue to supply the oil and gas industry, but we will move more and more into the energy transition. Offshore wind is one of the most exciting things, and we look for new opportunities every day. From a purely strategic point of view, we focus on sustainable segments in our production,” he says.
The power of collaboration
The changes in deliveries from Skjåk and Stryvo symbolise something important: the world is changing. Several of the crises that affect us are global. This particularly applies to the climate crisis. To succeed in the energy transition, where the goal is to offer more energy but with net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, one thing is absolutely crucial: cooperation.
Henriette Undrum is responsible for Norway energy hub , Equinor’s industrial plan for restructuring the Norwegian continental shelf. The prerequisite for further value creation from the petroleum industry – central to the Norway energy hub – is the decarbonisation of the entire value chain, both production and products.
“We will also produce significant amounts of electricity from offshore wind and develop new commercial value chains and products. This includes hydrogen and carbon capture and storage,” Undrum says.
"We will transform Norway from an oil and gas province to an energy centre.”
It is the same businesses and environments that, for the past 50 years, have supplied the offshore industry that will supply the new industries. In this way, Norwegian industry can both gain a home market and compete internationally.
“The Norwegian supplier industry has shown great adaptability as the Norwegian continental shelf has developed. It have developed solutions that are winning projects in Norway and internationally. There is no reason why this cannot apply to new value chains,” Undrum says.
Spread across the whole of Norway, important milieus have been developed that will not only supply the oil and gas industry in the future. They will also shape the development of carbon capture and storage. They will contribute to the development of Norwegian continental shelf’s floating wind power plants. And they will ensure that we can capture CO2 from natural gas to create new value chains for hydrogen based on existing solutions and infrastructure.
With Rolf Hellem’s oil commandments still in mind, the stage is set for Norwegian jobs, local communities, and expertise to be developed further.
"For 50 years, knowledge, competence and cooperation have been developed. This will be crucial to achieving the ambition of another, and more important, ‘50’: net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050,” Undrum says.
This is Norway energy hub
Norway energy hub is Equinor's plan for the further development of Norway’s next phase as an energy nation. The plan includes four main areas:
- Decarbonise oil and gas
- Industrialise offshore wind
- Deliver commercial carbon capture and storage
- Produce hydrogen on an industrial scale
Subscribe to our stories
Subscribe to our magazine stories and meet the people behind the ideas—and explore the stories behind the headlines. You will receive new stories by email and you can unsubscribe at any time.