Norway’s Paradox: Progressive Utopia Fueled by Oil and Gas Wealth

Norway is often pointed to internationally as a progressive utopia, boasting free health care and education that Americans desire. Little do they know, that is all possible to the country’s government-owned oil and gas licenses, which generated 528 billion kroner—the equivalent of $50 billion—in 2022. Recently, Norway’s energy companies, partially owned by the government, announced plans to bolster their natural gas extraction in the Barents Sea over the next three years. Though environmental groups often paint this country, and Scandinavia in general, as a progressive paradise, Norway understands the oil and gas sector’s importance to its economy and way of life.

This week, Norway’s government announced its largest offshore drilling lease sale. 62 offshore oil and gas exploration licenses were offered to 24 energy companies, including state controlled Equinor. Primarily extracting crude oil, Norwegian energy companies are entering the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, specifically using the Barents Sea as their gold mine. This signal from the government illustrates LNG’s immense potential as the world will continue to depend on oil and gas for years to come.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Norway’s role as an energy provider to Europe became vital. Building off their success, Norway’s oil and gas companies hope to buildout their LNG extraction capacity through investing in new energy infrastructure like an LNG train or a pipeline linking the Barents Sea to Norway’s extensive Norwegian and North Sea gas export infrastructure. The country continues to support oil and gas development, alongside its advancements in renewable energy. Norway is a prime example of a successful embrace of an all-of-the-above approach to energy policy.

While Norway may be one of the most advanced countries on the renewable technologies front, their economic prosperity is facilitated through the country’s secure oil and gas supply. The administration should take a note from Norway’s playbook, and explore, extract and export more of our own natural gas reserves.

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