Past achievers

A group of young Norwegian civil servants were wreathed in satisfied smiles on 13 April 1965. The government’s official gazette has invited the oil companies to apply in the country’s first offshore licensing round.
  • Bjørn Rasen and Roar Hagen (illustration)

Oil pioneers in government and civil service during the 1960s, depicted by Roar Hagen. This cartoon occupies a central place in the Norwegian Petroleum Museum’s new exhibition.

Oil pioneers in government and civil service during the 1960s, depicted by Roar HagenPrime minister Einar Gerhardsen (1) and his government declared Norwegian sovereignty over natural resources on the NCS in 1963. Key figures behind this decree were Jens Evensen (2) at the foreign ministry and his colleagues Leif Terje Løddesøl (3) and Carl August Fleischer (4).

   Nils B Gulnes (5) at the industry ministry played a key role as Norway’s first oil bureaucrat in work on the initial licensing round. Conservative politician Sverre Walter Rostoft (6) became industry minister after the 1965 general election.

The following year, Gulnes acquired two new colleagues – geologist Fredrik Hagemann (7) and engineer Olav K Christiansen. Farouk Al-Kasim became the fourth member of the team in 1968.

And the discovery of Ekofisk was announced immediately before Christmas the following year.


An extensive and groundbreaking effort to bring Norway into the oil age has been completed. What matter, then, that a light rain is falling in Oslo and the temperature is only 3-4°C.

At the same time, in a sunnier London, four other young men are recording the song Help! at the Abbey Road studio – another event which helped to shape history.

Fifty years have passed since that first round on the NCS, and production is set to last at least another 50. The Beatles are gone, but nobody would be surprised if their music is still being played as the giant Ekofisk and Johan Sverdrup fields near their end.

Norwegian Continental Shelf has interviewed three key figures about what needed to be done before drilling could begin in Norway’s North Sea sector.

To safeguard the sub-surface resources, it was first necessary to clarify which parts of the continental shelf actually belonged to Norway – a subject covered by lawyer Carl August Fleischer.

Two of the first officials working on oil in the Ministry of Industry’s mining office, Nils B Gulnes and Fredrik Hagemann, also explain how they had great freedom of action.

Virtually without political interference, they and their colleagues quickly put in place the legislation and organised the new activity.

That was at a time when the film version of The Sound of Music was a big hit across Norway – its audience record of 681 000 in Oslo remains unbeaten.

This issue also carries an interview with pundit Hans Henrik Ramm, who has kept tabs on the Norwegian oil adventure since the 1970s.

And, not least, newspaper cartoonist Roar Hagen contributes his take on the industry – in words and images – in his own distinctive way.

Hagen’s cartoons have a key place in an exhibition which opens at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum in Stavanger on 9 June to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Norway’s first licensing round.