A rally in the price of black gold is giving Norway another fix.
With crude back at $70 a barrel, and a petroleum industry that cut costs to the bone after the oil crash, the stage is now set for another boom. But the good times could hamper Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s main aim of moving the economy away from a reliance on oil. As optimism now returns to the economy, signs of real progress on that project are few.
“Ideally, in terms of long-term sustainability, we would like to see a substantial increase in mainland investments, that the new industries that have lived in the shadow of the oil sector get a real boost,” said Kjersti Haugland, chief economist at DNB ASA, Norway’s largest bank. “Based on the macro data that we now have, we can’t say that the Norwegian economy has gone through a massive transitioning.”
Norway’s Petroleum Directorate now predicts oil investments will rise this year for the first time since 2014 and that output will test another peak in 2023 as new fields start pumping. The real economic risks will appear after that, if the economic transformation hasn’t seen more progress. After 40 years of production, Norway’s biggest oilfields are being depleted and recent exploration in its Arctic waters has been disappointing.