After slump, oil and gas exporter Norway sees economy stabilize

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May 15 (UPI) — The petroleum component of the Norwegian economy contributed to first quarter growth after a drop off in the fourth quarter, the government said.

Statistics Norway, the government’s record-keeping office, reported growth in gross domestic product was 0.6 percent in the first quarter, the fifth quarter in a row for growth in the range of 0.6 and 0.7 percent.

Norway is one of the largest regional producers of oil and natural gas. It’s second behind Russia when it comes to supplying the European economy with reserves.

Not counting manufacturing and mining, the production of commodities posted a 1.2 percent increase during the first quarter, boosted in part by the electricity sector. Construction activity for Norway has ground to a halt, though non-governmental services industries were steady at 0.6 percent, consistent with the last three quarters.

“There was clear growth in most areas, with the exception of oil and gas extraction services,” the agency’s report read. “Oil-related manufacturing industries such as shipbuilding and metal manufacturing contributed positively, while the food industry, oil refining and chemical raw materials production declined.”

Norges Bank, the country’s central bank, said the economy was picking up steam following a period of low growth in 2016, when the price of oil dipped below $30 per barrel. In a financial report from March, the bank said a period of decline in petroleum investments was largely over and growth across the economic board is expected through the first half of 2018.

As the sector recovers, the Norwegian bank said it expected domestic oil and gas service companies to receive a large share of the contracts for work on the Norwegian shelf.

“Activity in the petroleum sector increased in the first quarter after a sharp decline in the quarter before, contributing to a 0.6 percent rise in GDP,” Statistics Norway reported.

Norge Bank Gov. Øystein Olsen has said that oil and gas has provided a “substantial boost” to Norwegian incomes.

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