Voters Deliver Warning to Norway’s Oil Industry

Norwegian voters have fired a warning shot at the country’s oil industry.

Parties that want to rein in the country’s golden goose made significant gains in Monday’s local elections. That raises the prospect of more advances for those forces that want to limit drilling in the Nordic nation, which supplies 25% of the European Union’s natural gas.

Bolstered by record support in the capital, the Green Party made no secret of who it’s targeting in the next general election, due in 2021.

The oil lobby is “shaking in its boots tonight,” Oslo Deputy Mayor Lan Marie Nguyen Berg said in a speech to party members. “The time when it was OK to make money by destroying our future will soon be over.”

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Climate change was among the most discussed topics during the campaign, and the results marked gains for the Greens, the Socialist Left and the Red Party. Those three parties, which all favor restrictions on the oil industry to different extents, sit on the opposition benches in the national parliament.

Changing Landscape

But the election also registered a sharp drop in support for the Labor Party, a historic ally of the oil industry. After Labor changed its position on offshore exploration around the Lofoten islands earlier this year, there is a fear in the industry of what the party might give up in future coalition talks. Labor’s top energy lawmaker has said the party should seek to govern nationally with the Greens, like it does in Oslo today.

The Norwegian Oil and Gas Association says it’s too early to say what might happen in 2021. Its spokesman, Tommy Hansen, points to the advances made by the Center Party, a backer of the industry and of the jobs it provides.

But Frode Alfheim, head of Industry Energy, the biggest oil union, says his group should double efforts to shore up support for the industry in the next general election.

“We’ll take this election result seriously,” he said.


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