Norwegian investment in Alberta oilsands hot issue in Norwegian election

The balloting happens in Oslo, but the results may be felt in Alberta’s oilpatch.

The balloting happens in Oslo, but the results may be felt in Alberta’s oilpatch.

Norwegian voters go to the polls Monday and parties with a good shot at governing have said they want the state-owned energy giant Statoil to pull out of Alberta’s oilsands.

The company, two-thirds owned by the government of Norway, has invested billions of dollars in the province’s northern oil-producing region.

“It’s been an issue for political debates and also for the media,” said Gunnar Kvassheim of Norway’s Liberal party, speaking from Oslo. “It’s been one of the environmental issues that have been focused on in this campaign.”

In 2007, Statoil paid $2.2 billion for a lease near Fort McMurray, Alta. A project is being built and company officials have said it’s about half complete.

But that investment has long been controversial in Norway, which prides itself on environment awareness.

“We want them to close down the business in Canada. It’s a very bad environmental project,” Kvassheim said Wednesday.

“We think it’s important that Norway and Norwegian companies where the state is the majority owner not work with that product.”

Five of Norway’s seven political parties say the investment was a mistake. So does the country’s largest newspaper.

In an Aug. 30 editorial, Aftenposten wrote that Statoil shouldn’t profit from Canada’s refusal to meet its promises of greenhouse gas reductions under the Kyoto Protocol. The paper wrote that Statoil and the current government are participating in a “collective denial of responsibility” for oilsands emissions.

A centre-right coalition ran the government until 2005, but power is currently held by three centre-left parties. The parties of the centre-right coalition all oppose developing the oilsands, said Dagfinn Hoybraaten, leader of the Christian Democrats.

“They’re all critical (of) the project and if we are in power after the election this will be an issue in negotiations between the parties as to how to deal with it. We are not at the point where we have had any negotiations on this, (but) I can assure you this will be an issue.”

Even the current government’s environment minister has spoken out against the oilsands — although he was careful to side with the government when Parliament considered a motion this spring that would have forced its representatives on Statoil’s board to vote against the project.

Last Friday, Statoil head Helge Lund felt compelled to defend his company’s activities in Alberta.

“Oilsands (are) a young industry which will be continually improved through technology development and increased know-how,” he wrote in an Aftenposten op-ed piece. “We believe that we can play a positive role in Canada.”

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said he wasn’t aware of the political ado over Statoil’s investment in the province.

“I’m not aware of Statoil,” he said in Calgary. “All I know is these last couple of weeks there has been just a huge renewed interest (in the oilsands).”

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month