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Oil downturn nearly over, Norway says

Oslo nevertheless doesn’t expect oil to hit $60 per barrel again for another few years.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Oil downturn nearly over, Norway says
Norwegian government sees some economic movement after a long idle sparked by lower crude oil prices. File photo by A.J. Sisco/UPI | License Photo

OSLO, Norway, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Though crude oil prices aren't expected to hit the $60 range until 2019, the Norwegian government said its economy has started to move out of a standstill.

The Norwegian government's statistics office said weak economic growth in the latter half of 2016 has replaced an economic standstill, with gains in home-building and exports expected to provide a lift through early 2017.

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"The fall in oil prices that began in summer 2014 has exacerbated the downturn in petroleum industry investments, which had already begun before the end of 2013," the government said Thursday. "The downturn that followed may now be coming to an end."

Norway is among the leading oil and natural gas exporters to a European economy looking to lessen its dependence on Russian natural gas reserves. Preliminary production figures for July show oil, natural gas liquid and condensate on the rise because fields in production were contributing more to overall volumes than initially expected.

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Norway, however, said the drop in oil prices since 2014 led to declines in overall employment and the general government surplus of $20 billion over the last four quarters was down by more than $7.2 billion from the preceding four-quarter period.

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Total investments in oil and gas extraction, and pipeline transport for the year are estimated to reach just under $20 billion, a 1.5 percent decline from the previous full-year estimate. In its projections Thursday, the government said the slump was in part due to a slowdown in its trading partners, though that's expected to reverse course next year.

"We assume that the decline in petroleum investments in terms of volume will be curbed considerably in 2017, and that the volume of investment will increase slightly in 2018 and 2019," it said.

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On the price of oil, the government said it assumed $60 per barrel would be the norm by the end of 2019. Oil was priced at around $46 per barrel Thursday morning.

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