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Norway acknowledges energy market pressures

Country is one of the leading oil and natural gas suppliers to the European economy.

Daniel J. Graeber
Though still a central part of the nation's economy, Norway said the slump in oil prices is taking a toll. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
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Norway's government surplus is declining and, while still a central economic pillar, the economy is under pressure from low oil prices, the government said.
Norway estimated a general government surplus of $20 billion over the last four quarters, down by more than $7.2 billion from the preceding four-quarter period.
Last week, the government's statistics office said total investments in oil and gas extraction, and pipeline transport for the year are estimated to reach just under $20 billion, a 1.5 percent decline from the previous full-year estimate. Total investments in oil, gas, mining and other parts of the electricity supply will reach $26 billion, a figure that's 12.3 percent lower than last year.
Overall, employment prospects increased until 2014, but have since turned south.
"Falling oil prices from the autumn of 2014 onwards have led to a decline in employment," the government said in a report published Wednesday.
Oil production, meanwhile, has fallen steadily since 2001, though recovery is expected once new fields like Johan Sverdrup and Johan Castberg come online in the coming years. Norwegian energy company Statoil said the cost to operate the former has improved so that it will be competitive at lower oil prices. It recently dusted off plans, meanwhile, to develop the latter.
Norway is a leading supplier of oil and natural gas to the European market.
"Gas production increased from the mid-1990s, and today it makes up more than half of total oil and gas production, a share that is expected to rise in the years ahead, as oil production diminishes," the government reported.
The government said petroleum activities account for about 18 percent of total gross domestic production and 39 percent of total export revenue
"However, both of these shares fell sharply from 2014 to 2015 due to the downturn in the oil industry," the report read.

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