On 14 July 1972, a unanimous Storting resolved to establish the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD). From its base in Stavanger, the Directorate's task was to manage the oil and gas resources on the Norwegian continental shelf.
The first production licences on the Norwegian continental shelf were granted in 1965, and the first exploration well was drilled the following year. The Ministry of Industry had the constitutional responsibility for these activities.
Activities increased during the 1960s and a need for organisational change gradually became apparent. Therefore, in 1970, the Government set up a committee to draft the organisation of the nation's future petroleum administration. The committee reviewed the functions of the authorities and found that these were threefold:
- The Centralized Control function: The stipulation of official policy, a task which naturally falls to a ministry to the extent that it is not a matter for the Government and Storting.
- The Administrative Function: Administration, inspection and surveying.
- The Business Function: Business operations, mainly resulting from state participation in production licences.
On 14 July 1972, a unanimous Storting resolved to establish the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) and Den norske stats oljeselskap a.s (Statoil) to take care of the administrative and business functions respectively. At the same time, the Ministry of Industry was strengthened by the establishment of a separate Division for Petroleum and Mining. It was decided that the NPD as well as Statoil should be located in Stavanger, where the NPD commenced its activities on 1 April 1973.
In 1978, matters concerning petroleum and energy were moved from the Ministry of Industry upon the establishment of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.
In 1979 the constitutional responsibility for matters concerning safety, working environment and emergency preparedness on the continental shelf was transferred from the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy to the Ministry of Local Government and Labour. This meant that the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate reported to two ministries from that time on.
On 1 April 2001, the Working Environment and Safety Division of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development was formally transferred to the Ministry of Labour and Government Administration. At the same time, the NPD began to report to the Ministry of Labour and Government Administration in matters relating to working environment and safety.
The Act of 21 June 1963 pertaining to the Norwegian continental shelf was replaced by the Act of 22 March 1985 relating to petroleum activities, which entered into force on 1 July 1985. This act was in turn replaced by a new act relating to petroleum activities which entered into force on 1 July 1997.
The act is supplemented by regulations laid down by Royal Decrees, governing the field of responsibility of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy as well as that of the Ministry of Labour and Government Administration.
On 1 January 2004, the NPD was split into two new, independent bodies, the NPD and the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA).
This division was the result of deliberation concerning Storting White Paper No. 17 (2002-2003) on State supervision bodies. At that time, the Storting decided to split the supervision of safety and working environment from the management of the petroleum resources. The NPD and the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway have offices allocated adjacent to each other, at Ullandhaug in Stavanger.
The NPD currently employs about 210 employees in Stavanger and Harstad.