United by oil and ancestry: Norway coming to check on investment in North DakotaNorth Dakota and Norway are different places in many ways — the “mountains” here might charitably be called hills over there — but for a century and a half they’ve both been home to a lot of self-described Norwegians.
By: By Chuck Haga , Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota and Norway are different places in many ways — the “mountains” here might charitably be called hills over there — but for a century and a half they’ve both been home to a lot of self-described Norwegians.
Now they share another feature, a booming oil industry, and next week Norway’s top oil official will lead a delegation to the state with stops in Bismarck, Williston and Grand Forks, where Ola Borten Moe, the Norwegian minister of petroleum and energy, will discuss the future of the industry Monday at the University of North Dakota-based Nordic Initiative.
Statoil, the Norwegian oil giant, underscored the new connection last year by acquiring — for $4.4 billion — the Texas-based Brigham Exploration Co., which gives Statoil a huge presence in western North Dakota.
Bruce Gjovig, director of the Center for Innovation and leader of Nordic Initiative, noted that the Norwegian government has majority control of Statoil.
“This means not only that Statoil is heavily invested in North Dakota, but also the country of Norway is heavily invested in North Dakota,” Gjovig said. “The ties are not only cultural, historical and ancestral, but now also in business and trade.”
The acquisition of Brigham Exploration gave Statoil interest in more than 375,000 acres in the Williston Basin, which includes the Bakken and Three Forks oil formations, among the largest deposits of recoverable oil in the United States. The state has jumped to second among the leading U.S. oil-producing states.
“The U.S. unconventional plays hold a substantial resource base and represent an increasingly important part of future energy supplies,” Statoil president Helge Lund declared on the company’s website when the deal was announced last October.
“Entering the Bakken and Three Forks tight oil plays and taking on operatorship represents a new significant step for Statoil,” he said. “We are positioning ourselves as a leading player in the fast-growing U.S. onshore oil and gas industry.”
Since the discovery of oil and gas on the Norwegian continental shelf more than 40 years ago, the country of 5 million people has become one of the largest exporters of oil and gas in the world. It also has used oil revenues to amass a pension fund of more than $600 billion.
Moe, 36, became oil minister two years ago. A farmer, he is a member of the Norwegian Storting, or parliament, and vice chairman of the Center Party, part of the ruling government coalition.