With its gas, Norway defends itself from accumulating “war profits” | War in Ukraine

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With its gas, Norway defends itself from accumulating “war profits” | War in Ukraine

As a result of the drop in Russian energy supplies, the Scandinavian country has become Europe's leading gas supplier, reaping record profits. Some are now campaigning for Norway to take advantage of this wealth to further help Ukraine.

Activities are non-stop at the Smed Kristiansen factory in Stavanger, which supplies parts to the oil and gas industry.

STAVANGER – “We hire people. We need more hands in anticipation of the projects that are taking shape,” says Svein Kristiansen, at the heart of his factory in Stavanger.

In this small family business, founded by Svein's grandfather, all kinds of tools are produced, which are used, among other things, in offshore oil and gas drilling activities.

After very quiet years, activity has resumed at a steady pace in the factory.

And for good reason: Rarely have Norwegian fossil fuels been in as much demand as over the past year. With the reduction or even the end of the supply of Russian gas, several European countries, including Germany, have turned their eyes to the north to obtain their energy.

Svein Kristiansen sees a marked increase in activity at his factory.

Last year we became the largest supplier in Europe, says economist at the University of Stavanger, Torfinn Harding.

In addition to the increase in demand, which resulted in an 8% increase in gas production, Norway also benefited from the high prices of the resource, inflated by the energy crisis rocking Europe.


In 2022, the country announced record profits related to gas and oil revenues of around 1,168 billion crowns, or more than 150 billion Canadian dollars. For the current year, Oslo expects to receive an even larger amount equivalent to more than 175 billion Canadian dollars.

Port from Stavanger, Ukraine, from where parts are shipped for offshore drilling and wind.

“Nominal GDP increased by 30% and reached its highest level. This is, of course, due to high gas prices. »

— Torfinn Harding, economist at the University of Stavanger

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The monster profits collected by the Norwegian state, which heavily taxes the sector and which plays a central role in some energy companies, raises a debate on where this money comes from and how it should be spent.

It's war profit, whatever term you use. It was because of the war that prices went up, says Paal Frisvold, a member of the Green Party of Norway.

Each evening, protesters gather in front of the Norwegian parliament to demand more resources for Ukraine.

This observation echoes the thoughts of certain demonstrators who appear every evening before the Storting, the Norwegian Legislative Assembly, to demand more military and financial aid to Kiev.

We have money to help, so we have to, says protester Kristi Gabrielsen.

Last week Parliament approved an aid package for to Ukraine in the order of 9 billion Canadian dollars over five years.

But, according to Norwegian demonstrator of Belarusian origin Igor Bukanov, his adopted country has not only the means to offer more financial aid, but he has a moral responsibility to do so.

“We kind of have to help Ukraine, because Norway has made a lot of money.

—Igor Bukanov, protester

I fully understand these impressions, but it is important for me to say that the Norwegian government does not welcome high energy prices, retorts the Secretary of State for Energy and Petroleum, Andreas Bjelland Eriksen. He assures that the Norwegian authorities have multiplied their efforts, in collaboration with the European Commission, to try to ensure price control.

Andreas Bjelland Eriksen, Secretary of State for Petroleum and Energy, assures that his government is maintaining its objectives to combat climate change.

The elected representative of the ruling Labor Party also assures that his country has no choice but to take its responsibilities and help its European neighbors to meet their needs in times of crisis.

“I think all of Europe sees Norway and its supply of oil and gas as absolutely crucial to European energy security.

— Andreas Bjelland Eriksen, State Secretary for Energy and Petroleum

Beyond moral issues, Norway's increased energy production raises questions about the country's climate goals. Oslo promises to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Party member Paal Frisvold, who is also the European Union's climate ambassador, fears that the current dynamic is impacting Norway's drive to transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

Paal Frisvold, a member of Norway's Green Party, believes the energy crisis is complicating the country's transition discussion.

Batteries, hydrogen, offshore wind power offer lower profits and wages. We are therefore in a situation where we would like to change our industrial activities, but we do not want to leave colossal income, he explains.

On various platforms, such as at the Oslo Energy Forum which took place in early February, the Norwegian Minister of Energy and Petroleum assures that his government is maintaining its dual objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the same time as securing enough energy to meet European demand.

The tram runs through a modern district of Oslo, the capital of Norway.

But in his factory in Stavanger, Svein Kristiansen admits that there is perhaps less talk than before of the issues related to the energy transition. The entrepreneur, who believes that a turnaround is nevertheless inevitable, adds that we must adapt now.

After all, when the family business was founded before the discovery of the oil fields, the factory provided tools to the farmers of the region. Today, the hydroelectric and biogas-powered building produces not only parts used for fossil fuel harvesting, but also parts for wind power generation.

In Stavanger, the transition is underway, but it's hard to ignore that oil and gas has regained prominence over the past year.

It changed forever. I don't think Europe and Russia will be friends again anytime soon. We need to prepare ourselves to be self-sufficient in energy, says Svein Kristiansen.

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