For a country that reinvented itself thanks to the discovery of oil in the 1970s, it’s always surprising when realizing how little Norway has grown to depend on the oil industry for its own needs. In the last few years, electric cars have become the norm and steps to rely less on petroleum have been taken. Now, the oil industry is starting to notice.
Norway is a big country, which means changes may take a while to have an effect on the grand scale of things. But the changes Norway has been making these last few years with regards to petroleum have started creating a ripple effect. According to the final figures released by the Norwegian government for 2017, the sales of petroleum products have declined across the board – for the first time since 2014, at least. A 2.2% decline in overall petroleum product sales has been reported, with motor gasoline sales showing the biggest fall (2.9%). To put it simply, the demand for petroleum used in cars is not that big anymore in Norway.
Instead, electric vehicles are taking over: a trend known as “EV revolution”. It started with a rise in the popularity of electric vehicles such as Tesla and Nissan Leaf in the past four years, and last year the market share for them was over 50% of the total amount of new cars bought. One in two cars bought in Norway is electric, a rate higher than any other country in the world.
There are many reasons for that. After years of being an important petroleum producer, Norway has been working to become more green and environment-friendly, even if that means not depending on its own products. The plan is to end sales of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2025, and the Norwegian government has offered many “perks” to people making the switch, such as big tax deductions, free charging for the cars, and exemption from paying tolls, to name a few. At the same time, there is a plan in place to make all of Norway’s short-haul flights entirely electric by 2040 as well as a newly passed law that will make Norwegian fjords ‘the world’s first zero-emission zone at sea’. According to experts, Norway’s ever-growing EV fleet has already started having a real impact on the oil industry – and the effects are expected to become even more prominent in the years to come. But don’t worry, Norway will probably be alright, and the environment even better for it.