Economics and business
Norway is a highly developed industrial country. Since the beginning of the 1970s, the country has experienced greater economic growth than most industrialized countries, while unemployment has been kept at a comparatively low level. Economic developments have meant that GDP per capita is now among the highest in the world (US $ 81,807, 2018). Growth during the last quarter of a century can largely be attributed to the expansion of the oil sector since the mid-1970s, when oil and natural gas began to be exported in increasing quantities. The importance of oil and natural gas extraction for the Norwegian economy has gradually increased; oil and natural gas contribute 70 percent to the value of goods exports. The state’s revenues from the oil sector in the form of taxes, fees and royalties have also been significant.
The high and rapid growth of the economy has also created problems. Parts of the business sector outside the oil sector have stagnated, partly as a result of price increases and increased costs that have not been followed by corresponding production increases. Thus, the competitiveness of industry has decreased. During the years when the world market price of oil has been stable and oil revenues are rising, the problems have not led to any more serious disruptions to the country’s economy. However, the fall in oil prices in 1986, which led to large reductions in oil revenues, became a first serious reminder of how dependent the Norwegian economy has become on oil revenues. In the mid-2010s, the Norwegian economy was again hit by an international fall in oil prices.
Companies with highest turnover
|Business||Turnover 2014 (NOK million)|
|Statoil ASA||622 700|
|Statoil Petroleum AS||179 400|
|Telenor ASA||106 500|
|Yara International ASA||95 000|
|Nordea Bank AB||80 500|
|Norsk Hydro ASA||77 900|
|Aker ASA||73 400|
|Joh Johannson AS||71 400|
|Norgesgruppen ASA||71 400|
|The Resource Group TRG AS||70 800|
Companies with the most employees
|Business||Number of employees in 2014|
|Health South East RHF||58 600|
|Telenor ASA||35 000|
|Aker ASA||28 200|
|Health West RHF||27 000|
|Oslo University Hospital HF||24 800|
|Wilhelmsen Holding ASA||17 400|
|Aker Solutions ASA||16 600|
|Joh Johannson ASA||13 800|
|Norgesgruppen ASA||13 800|
|Norsk Hydro ASA||12 600|
The conditions for running arable farming are limited in Norway due to the climate and the hilly topography. Only about 3 percent of the country’s area consists of utilized agricultural land. The core areas of agriculture are found in southeastern Norway, in Trøndelag around Trondheim and on Jæren in Rogaland county.
Economically, Norway’s most important agricultural products are milk and meat (cattle, pigs, chicken and lamb). Meat production in 2009 was almost three times greater than 50 years earlier. Among cultivated crops are found oats, barley, wheat and potatoes as well as fruits, berries and vegetables. Whale cultivation occupies close to half of the area used.
As in other developed industrial countries, agriculture has undergone extensive rationalization in recent decades. The number of farms has decreased sharply, while the remaining ones have increased in size. In 2010, the number of farms was just over a quarter compared to the number in 1969. However, compared with Sweden, Norway is still a smallholder country; still over half of the farms have less than 20 hectares. The number of people employed in agriculture and the contribution of agriculture to GDP have fallen sharply since the early 1970s. Agriculture, along with fishing and forestry, employs about 3 percent of the workforce and accounts for about 2 percent of GDP.
State aid to agriculture is extensive. The grants go to guarantee users competitive income and to maintain employment in rural areas with a weak and unilateral business base. Furthermore, it is common for employment in agriculture to be combined with work in the forest or with fishing.
About 1/3 of the country’s area is covered by forest. Norway’s most important forest areas are located in the southern and southeastern parts of the country. About 80 percent of the forest is owned by private individuals and the remaining part of the state and forest companies. More than half of the forest property is run in combination with agriculture.
Forestry is of the greatest importance in the Inland county, which is also Norway’s most forest county, as well as in Viken and Trøndelag county respectively. Over the past 50 years, about 8 million m 3 timber have been harvested each year. Approximately 94 percent of the annual forest harvest is used in the forest industry (sawmill, timber and pulp industry).
As forestry has become more and more mechanized in recent decades, forest employment has been sharply reduced. In 1950, about 40,000 people had their main income from forestry. From 1980 to 2010, the number of employees in the forest industry halved from 13,000 to about 6,500. During the same period, forestry’s contribution to GDP fell from just under 2.5 percent to just over 0.5 percent.
Norway is one of the world’s leading fishing nations; fishing contributes 2 percent to the country’s GDP. The country has the largest economic sea zone in Europe and is the second largest fish exporter in the world after China. Cod fishing brings in the most, followed by herring fishing. Both cod and herring have been subjected to overfishing for periods. In 2009, 2.5 million tonnes of fish were caught. The value of the catch was just over SEK 11 billion. Fish is the third largest export product, after petroleum products and metal, and accounts for 5.7 percent of the total Norwegian export value. The largest proportion of fish exports goes to Denmark, the Russian Federation, France and Japan.
The species that were caught in the largest quantities in 2011 were herring, capelin, cod, mackerel, grayling, haddock and coastal tobacco. The most economically important species was cod. In the same year, almost 1 million tonnes of fish, mainly salmon and rainbow, were grown to a value of approximately SEK 22 billion, twice the value of the fish caught.
In 2011, there were almost 13,000 professional fishermen in Norway, of whom 20 percent were fishing as a side job. Almost half of the fishermen live in the northernmost counties (Nordland and Troms og Finnmark), the others mainly in western Norway. The number of professional fishermen was just over 96,000 60 years earlier. Fishing is the basis for employment in several small coastal communities, and work in the freezing and canning industries dependent on fishing is of great importance, especially for women’s work opportunities.
International criticism has been directed at Norwegian whaling. It has been feared that the whaling would threaten the stock.
Raw material resources and energy supply
Norway’s varied geology offers good conditions for the extraction of minerals and mineral oils, and significant mining of industrial minerals and rocks takes place in some thirty mines. Norway is the leading oil producer and oil exporter in Western Europe.
The mining industry in Norway consists of both private and state actors and is located mainly to the coastal band. Mining includes field pits, graphite, ilmenite and iron ore. Industrial minerals and rocks of economic importance are gravel (see natural gravel), limestone, nepheline syenite and olivines. The production of minerals and processed materials is dominated by aluminum, cadmium, cobalt, copper, iron alloys (see alloy), nickel, steel andzinc. Exports are dominated by aluminum and iron alloys. Norway is one of the largest producers of titanium (made from ilmenite).
The petroleum industry is well developed and under state control. This sector accounts for half of the country’s export volume, 1/3 of tax revenue and 1/5 of GDP. The production of natural gas has in principle increased continuously since the production began in the late 1970s, while the production of liquid petroleum (crude oil and LNG) has dropped by 40% continuously since the peak of production in the early 2000s. In 2009, Norway was the third largest exporter of petroleum products in the world (after Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation), and the sixth largest oil exporter. Petroleum products are the most important export commodity in terms of income. Norway has the largest petroleum reserves in Western Europe, mainly in the Barents Sea, the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea. The largest gas field is Troll-Oseberg, which accounts for 1/3 of Norway’s production volume (2009).
Coal mining takes place in Svalbard and some of it is exported, but coal is of little importance for energy production.
Norway is a very large producer of water energy, meeting 95% of the country’s electricity needs (2009). Electricity production has its greatest scope in Vestland, Nordland, Sogn og Fjordane, Vestfold and Telemark, Viken and Rogaland counties. Electricity accounts for almost half of Norway’s total energy supply. Norway has the world’s largest consumption of electricity per inhabitant; however, a number of energy-intensive industries respond, e.g. aluminum production, for a relatively large part (just over 1/4) of the consumption. Nuclear energy is missing. Electricity production with renewable energy sources such as wave energy, wind energy and osmotic energy is at a start-up or development stage.
The Norwegian industry, including the mining and construction industry, employs 21 percent of the workforce and contributes 34 percent to the country’s GDP. During the last three decades, the Norwegian industrial structure, like other developed countries, has changed significantly. Several industrial industries, such as shipbuilding and other engineering industries, the tech industry and the forest industry, have been subjected to strong international competition, which has resulted in, among other things, closures of companies and reduced employment. However, not all industries have stagnated, and especially those that have been related to the oil sector have been able to develop.
A large part of Norwegian industry is traditionally linked to the country’s natural resources. These include, among other things, the significant fish processing and canning industry, whose products are largely exported. Another such industry is the timber and wood processing industry, which also belongs to the country’s export industries. The forest industries have their main focus in Østlandet, especially in the Viken county and along the Dramselva river, and as the most important company Norske Skog appears with factories in several places. A special feature of Norwegian industry is the large share of the energy-intensive industry, that is. industries that utilize the country’s large resources on water energy. These include the electrochemical industry, which manufactures artificial fertilizers (primarily through Norsk Hydro A/S),
The more successful industrial sectors also include those parts of the engineering industry that manufacture electrical and electronic products, such as telecommunications and navigation equipment, generators, transformers and appliances. Most of these products are manufactured in the Oslo area, Bergen and Trondheim; Among the larger companies are Asea Brown Boveri A/S, Aker A/S and Kvaerner A/S.
Parts of the Norwegian engineering industry have had major problems in recent decades. This is especially true of the transport industry. The basis for this has been shipbuilding, which until the 1980s was one of the country’s most important industrial branches. In the same way as in many other Western European countries, Norwegian shipbuilding has declined sharply, but after a few difficult years during the 1990s, production has recovered, mainly because production has been changed to the construction of sea platforms, supply vessels and other equipment for oil and gas. natural gas extraction. Norway’s largest oil refinery is located in Mongstad north of Bergen, on the Slagentangen on the Oslofjord north of Tønsberg and in Sola near Stavanger. Oil and natural gas are also the basis for the petrochemical industry, which is operated, among other things, at Rafnes outside Porsgrunn.
Since the beginning of the 1980s, Norway’s trade balance has been strongly dependent on the development of crude oil and natural gas production in the country, but also on the world market prices of oil and natural gas. The increase in oil production during the first half of the 1980s meant increased oil exports and increased export income. Norway thus gained a significant surplus in its trade balance. However, the positive development was broken in 1986, due to falling world market prices for oil, and for three years Norway had a deficit in its trade balance. However, from 1989 the deficit returned to annual surpluses. In 2011, the surplus amounted to SEK 38 billion.
Since the 1980s, crude oil and natural gas have been the country’s most important export products; during the 00s, these accounted for two-thirds of the total export value. Subsequently, there will be significant workshop products (machinery), fish and fish products, metals (mainly aluminum) and paper and paper products. The main export markets are the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and France.
According to Countryaah, imports mainly comprise workshop products such as machinery and transport equipment, chemical products, textiles and food, as well as metals, iron and steel. Imports come mainly from Sweden, Germany and China.
Tourism and gastronomy
Due to its nature, Norway is a major tourist destination. The country is visited annually by over 4 million visitors, and tourism is of great importance for employment, especially in the sparsely populated areas of western and northern Norway. Many visitors are attracted by the good opportunities to practice winter sports. The most famous winter sports areas are in southern Norway: Lillehammer, Geilo, Gol, Buskerud, Holmenkollen and Telemark.
Other popular tourist destinations are the Northern Cape, Hardangervidda National Park and Lofoten. Along the entire west and north coasts, from Bergen to Kirkenes, the ship line runs the Hurtigruten, popular with tourists and necessary for many of the coastal resorts that the boats enter. In Oslo there are museums that illuminate eg. Edvard Munch, the Kon-Tiki expedition and polar research. Other tourist destinations are the town hall, the cathedral, the Akershus castle and the Vigeland Park.
The food attitude is characterized by a traditionalism of saturating food, where fish, sheep and dairy products hold a special position. The breakfast consists of e.g. coarse bread, smoked and pickled herring, cured food (smoked and salted meat) and eggs and sour cream (sour cream). The lunch included usually consists of simple sandwiches. Dinner is often made up of fish, preferably fresh freshly cooked cod with melted butter and egg or mustard sauce. Other fish dishes are fried cod and cod liver, cod tongues in jelly (cabaret), salmon of all kinds, lute fish with pork and fish pudding. Soups, on either vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, peas) or berries and fruits, are everyday foods. Lamb and sheep meat turn into sheep in cabbage and puss pass (sheep stew with potatoes, carrots and cabbage),stick meat (salted, steamed mutton) and phenal thigh (sheep violin). Among the game you can see pure meat and rip. Goat cheese and aged cheese as well as rømmegrøt (porridge of rum, flour and milk eaten with cinnamon and often jam on red currants) belong to the traditional Norwegian products and dishes that have not lost in popularity.