About the case study
The investigation of the Stavanger area consists of Stavanger kommune (municipality), and the surrounding municipalities of Randaberg, Sandnes, and Sola. The Stavanger case in the ENTRANCES project is led by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and started in 2021 and the case studies are expected to last until Summer 2022.
The Stavanger area was chosen as a Coal and Carbon Territory (CCT) as it is the onshore and offshore centre for oil and gas in Norway after the discovery of oil fields in the North Sea in 1969. This finding resulted in a rapid increase in employment opportunities and now Stavanger houses about 35 oil and gas companies and 400+ oil service and technology companies, as well as over 45,000 employees in oil and gas in the business area “Forus” alone. Today the oil industry is a key industry in the Stavanger region and the city is widely referred to as the Oil Capital of Norway. Presently, Stavanger is making a shift and is focusing more on clean energy, although financial incentives are by some considered a hindrance towards the transition to cleaner energy.
Several investigations have taken place and several rapports have been written. The first component was the socio-political component that looked at how the region is viewed by media, Norwegian citizens, and the government. The socio-psychological component consisted of a survey of 483 respondents that investigated consequences of the decarbonization process in the carbon region of Stavanger. The socio-cultural component was analysed in April and May of 2022 and a team from NTNU conducted a workshop in the Stavanger area where four participants discussed strain situations related to the oil industry, and how these situations started, and how they are affecting the region. The analysis of the socio-ecological and technical component was finished in May 2022, and consisted of five semi-structured interviews from four key stakeholder categories were asked to assess the Stavanger-regions ability to deal with the clean energy transition (CET). When looking at the main findings, it needs to be acknowledged that most of the empirical work has been conducted before the energy crisis in Spring / Summer 2022 dominated the societal discourse.
The main findings / results so far are the following:
- The divide between the financial benefits of the oil industry in Stavanger and the negative outcomes and effect on the environment not only in Norway but also worldwide has been an ongoing debate for several years. On the one side there are several people, including political parties, companies, and interest groups that emphasise the effect oil has had on the economy and what it has meant for Norway coupled with concerns about the possible negative consequences of a “post-oil” society. Some political parties (among them the Green Party) have argued for a decrease and end to oil production and excavation arguing environmental effects and are favouring investments in green energy such as wind farms and carbon capture and storage. This has led to a regional oil identity crisis. Norway is still heavily reliant on oil and gas, and there is little reason to believe that any immediate change is coming or that there will be a complete transition towards green energy in the near future. However, many former oil companies like Equinor are now among those who are investing large sums in green energy thus diversifying their energy portfolio, although they have been accused of green washing by some stakeholders.
- A lack of focus on nature has been commented upon in several of the components and the argument is that nature comes last. This ties in with the previous point, as well. Highlighting the financial benefit of the current oil and gas industry as a detriment to a more serious focus on environmental concerns. The modern need for increase in infrastructure and energy is very important, but this comes at the cost of intrusions in and the destruction of nature. Offshore fish farms’ negative impact on nature in the form of emissions and run-off are well-documented in Norway. Research on the improvement of wind turbines should be accelerated, and their damaging properties on biodiversity and natural areas should be ameliorated. Furthermore, as the infrastructure appears to solely benefit foreign interests, policies should be introduced for the local government and population to benefit equally. Altogether, these factors are likely to contribute towards the acceptance of green energy infrastructure.
- During the semi-structured interviews that investigated the Stavanger-regions capabilities in relation to the CET the “average citizens” lack of input and inability to participate in the transition was brought up. One of the main worries was that regular citizens do not have the same access to information as some of the stakeholders or those who work for companies, in the municipalities, NGOs, and business associations. Those who are involved in the CET have access to information about the current development and the opportunities about new technology. The concern was that the average citizen will be unprepared and might find themselves without a job and the necessary qualifications. An increase in unemployment might lead to social unrest, and this risk of unemployment and the possible negative consequences were shared among several participants. Local and national government should take this possible future problem into account when planning the CET. The need for education both for current and future employees in and around Stavanger should also be noted. This was something the participants focused on, and local businesses might be helped by focusing on further and continuing education for employees currently working in carbon intensive jobs. Furthermore, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service might also benefit from planning for the CET, so that possible future unemployment is alleviated.
Stavanger Municipality has agreed to support the project, while other actors will be involved once the project will be funded.