“The public sector will be forced to tighten its belt when oil and gas is phased out,” warns climate and environment minister Ola Elvestuen (V).
– “We cannot replace the huge revenue we have had from petroleum,” says Elvestuen to NTB.
The activity itself in the petroleum sector, Norway will probably manage to find substitutes for, he believes. But Elvestuen has difficulty imagining that we will be able to regain the “super income” we have had from oil and gas.
“This means that Norway must streamline the public sector to cope with the change,” he warns.
More like Europe
Elvestuen’s prediction is that the Norwegian economy will gradually become more like the economy of other European countries.
– “We need to restructure business so that it becomes more varied and less dependent on oil. And I mean it has to happen fast.”
The Minister of Climate and Environment emphasizes that knowledge from the petroleum sector must now be actively used to develop new business activities. He highlights offshore wind, hydrogen production and the capture and storage of CO2 as promising examples.
– “We have had a unique situation for 50 years with the build-up of the oil sector and the huge revenue we have had. Now we have to take the innovation, new ways of thinking and business development that has been there into what will be the new future,” says Elvestuen.
On the way down
The backdrop is a certainty that oil and gas production on the Norwegian continental shelf will fall rapidly over the next decades, partly because the shelf is now beginning to be depleted of resources, but also because demand has to go down if the world is to reach its climate targets.
– “Globally, we must cut 40 to 50 percent by 2030, and we must be at a net zero by 2050. Then the consumption of oil and gas must decrease. And where that it is going to happen the fastest, also gas, is in Europe because we have such ambitious goals. It’s going to affect us,” says Elvestuen.
Equinor has estimated that production will be more than halved by 2050, although exploration for new fields continues.
We need all the others too
Business Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (H) agrees that it will be challenging to find new industries where value creation per employee can compare with oil and gas.
– “There are no other industries that we have that come close to the same value creation per head, compared to oil and gas. None,” says Isaac.
According to him, some of the closest we come to is seafood.
– “But we also need all the other industries that do not necessarily have as high value added per head, but which employ many people. For example, tourism or the trade industry,” Isaksen says.
“There is not one thing that could be the new oil. The new oil is ten different things,” he says.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today