A letter from the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU) to the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated 5 February 1958 stated that there was probably not any oil in Norwegian waters. Still, a decision was made to conduct exploratory drilling for a time, and in 1966 British Petroleum drilled the first well.
Everyone was ready to give up after 31 empty wells were tested and abandoned. But Well 32 (Ekofisk) was drilled in 1969 – which proved to contain vast amounts of oil. The first commercial petroleum enterprises began activities in the North Sea in 1971. After that Norway has continued to pump vast amounts of oil and gas out of the ocean floor.
These activities have expanded to other waters, and in recent years one has also begun investigating the areas around Lofoten, Vesterålen and in the Barents Sea. There are significant oil and gas reserves in northern coastal waters. The future will prove whether and how these resources will be used.