Updated seahorse

22/02/2011 The NPD (Norwegian Petroleum Directorate) is proud of its logo, a seahorse under a royal crown. The NPD’s board decided on a logo on 6 August 1975, which was then approved by the Ministry of Industry on 27 November 1975.



In January 2011, the NPD moved into a new building. In connection with this, the seahorse and crown on the logo have been revamped. The changes are small, and the original design is well reflected in the new logo.

The background for the new logo is that the old design was very detailed, and that a bit of modernisation would make it better suited to today’s use, e.g. on the internet.

The NPD’s logo was developed by deputy keeper of public records Hallvard Trætteberg, who was one of Norway’s leading heralds. He gave the following reasons for his choice of motif:

”The emblem must contain the royal crown as a sign of central government authority, and under that, a figure as a sign of the Directorate’s areas of expertise and activities. The figure must have a character of dignity such that it can appear under a royal crown, and be of such a nature that it can be drawn as a rhythmic ornament which resonates with the royal crown. It must also be possible to draw the figure clearly in all sizes (and on all materials). The seahorse is suited to these requirements.

The seahorse, the hippocampus, is Neptune’s horse. Neptune is god of the sea. He had created the breed of horse on land (in competition with Athene who created the oil tree), and he created the seahorse with forequarters like a horse with webbed feet (or hooves) and the hindquarters of a fish-like sea serpent with a fish tail. With powerful seahorses leading the way, Neptune ploughs the sea. In terms of power, he can almost rival the god of the sky Zeus – Jupiter: Neptun lives in his palace at the bottom of the sea: but he doesn’t just have power over the sea and the ocean floor with its treasures, he also rules over rivers and what’s under the earth’s surface. He is the god of earthquakes and is lord of hollows and spaces in the deep of the earth.

In choosing Neptune’s horse as a symbol for the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, I have in mind a conscious parallel to the four-legged horse of energy and light which is the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate’s emblem of 1956. At the time, I took the horse model from my 1942 drawings for the facade of Oslo City Hall where two horses make up the rays of the sun and express creative energy. This idea is carried on in the “oil horse” I have suggested for the NPD, an expression of energy from Neptune’s kingdom and an expression of supreme authority since it will represent the Directorate.”


Hallvard Trætteberg

Hallvard Trætteberg is known as the creator of modern public heraldry in Norway. He developed the current edition of the national coat of arms and has designed numerous municipality coats of arms and logos for state agencies. His understanding of correct heraldry has set standards far beyond his own production. Trætteberg was for many years Norway’s leading heraldry expert. In 1924 he was employed by the Public Record Office, and from 1940 he was the deputy keeper of public records and an expert on heraldry for the king, government, ministries, the church, the royal mint, the armed forces, county authorities and municipalities. After leaving the Public Record Office, he continued taking assignments as a designer. He is the creator of almost 50 coats of arms for Norwegian municipalities and counties.


Updated: 22/02/2011