16 October 2013, News Wires – Norway’s oil industry association has called for talks on tax changes with the country’s newly appointed Petroleum & Energy Minister Tord Lien, who takes over the role from controversial former incumbent Ola Borten Moe.
Progress Party politician Lien was among key Cabinet appointments due to be announced on Wednesday by incoming Prime Minister Erna Solberg to coincide with the formal handover of power to the new Conservative-led government.
He was apparently favoured for the post ahead of Ketil Solvik-Olsen, deputy leader of coalition partner the Progress Party, who was widely tipped to take the petroleum portfolio but has instead been named transport and communications minister.
Party leader Siv Jensen has been appointed finance minister.
Lien, a resident of Trondheim, reportedly had declined to stand as a parliamentary candidate ahead of last month’s election and had taken up a position as communications director of an energy company near his home town.
He has previously served for two parliamentary periods, having been a member of the energy & environment committee from 2005 to 2009.
While welcoming the appointment, Norwegian Oil & Gas (NOG) managing director Gro Braekken sent a clear signal to Lien that the industry wanted to see fiscal changes to boost oil recovery and development of marginal fields, in line with the policy platform recently outlined by the new government.
The outgoing Labour-led administration earlier this year introduced tax increases following little consultation with the industry, which warned they would hit investment in such projects.
“Following the tax changes in the spring, it is important for us the government has affirmed that it wants stable framework conditions for the industry. We hope the new minister will also facilitate a constructive dialogue with the industry when it considers changes to the petroleum tax system in relation to increasing the recovery rate,” Braekken said.
However, she paid tribute to Borten Moe for “lifting the significance of the industry” in global energy production and outlining clear guidelines for its future development in a white paper, adding she hoped the new minister would follow suit.
The outgoing minister also courted controversy with environmental groups over his strong backing for development of pollutive fossil fuels and exploitation of Norway’s untapped oil resources in the eco-sensitive Arctic.