Until the 1970’s, Norway was one of the poorest countries in Europe. Their economy was based primarily on fishing and timber. On December 23, 1969, Phillips Petroleum discovered oil in Norwegian waters. Phillips had drilled experimental wells in the area previously without success and was going to give up on finding oil in Norway if this final attempt came up dry. Instead it changed the history of Norway and turned it into the wealthiest country per capita in the world ( per our guide).
While the people enjoy the prosperity that oil created, they also worry about the environmental impact. Norway is a green country. Nearly all their power is generated by hydro electric plants. Since their electricity is so cheap, they are leaders in electric cars and claim to own more Teslas per capita than any other country. As a result, they export almost all the oil they produce.
The government uses some of the money it makes from oil to fund research on how to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and permanently store it. Some of it is used to fund the welfare state with free education and health care. The remainder is invested in carefully chosen stocks and bonds from around the world. For instance, they will not invest in Walmart because of social issues, Boeing because they make weapons, or in tobacco companies. The fund amounts to $165,000 for each of the five million residents of Norway! Only four per cent of this money can be spent each year for infrastructure projects.
Unfortunately, the price of oil has dropped dramatically and the discovery of new reserves has fallen at the same time. Norway has only one percent of the known reserves in the world, so the question for the country is: What next?
Stavanger, Norway has an oil Museum with exhibits on the history of oil discovery, oil production, the finances of oil, and the environmental consequences of oil. This is a model of an oil drilling platform.Different drill bits are used based on the type of rock being drilled.Stavanger also has a historic section of wooden houses.You might notice this “gossip mirror” on the upper window of the first house on the left of the previous picture. With this mirror you can sit in your house and see what is happening on the street in either direction. This seems to be a common feature in older houses.We were relieved to find that even in Norway we are never far from a source of Fidget Spinners! We are now headed for Denmark.