Norway’s oil industry supports electric vehicles – as well as government pensions

Norway is Europe’s undisputed electric vehicle leader. It is also Europe’s largest oil producer. The way these two facts intertwine is what The Globe And Mail calls “ironisk,” the Norwegian word for, well, you can probably guess.

That irony has some interesting highlights. The Tesla Model S was the best-selling car in Norway last month. Meanwhile, in the 70 oil fields in the waters around the Northern European country are producing two million barrels of oil per day…Norway exports a lot of oil and puts the money into something called the Government Pension Fund, which is now worth more than $725 billion US. Some of that money is “recycled,” as it were, into government subsidies for electric vehicles. Or, as The Globe And Mail puts it, “Norway’s present and future rest solely on everyone else in the world not buying Tesla Model S cars or electric vehicles of any sort.”

It’s not that dramatic, we don’t think, but Norway’s shunning of and reliance on the oil industry is a story worth investigating. Especially since the EV subsidies are much bigger there than most other places. Reuters said back in March that the total incentives (purchase subsidies, road toll exemptions, free parking, etc.) for EVs can total up to $8,200 per car, per year. We can only imagine what the sales numbers would be in the US if the American’s offered something similar.

Not surprising to someone who knows much Euro history, the essential political divisions between Conservative and Labor. Both flavors understanding the responsibility which government assumes to the whole population. The American split between Republicans dedicated to the most regressive segments of Big Business – perfectly willing to screw the whole population including small biz owners – and Democrats dedicated to trial lawyers and lobbyists for successful technologies below the Chamber of Commerce top tier.

Both sides of the pond are capable of more or less successful wings of Left political organizations, though the success of Greens in Europe so far has nothing comparable in the US. Both sides of the pond are capable of ultra-nationalist fascist dedication to the most reactionary industries – adopting populist lies common to Brown Shirts and the Tea Party…ignoranuses useful for their predilection towards violence and led around by the nose by the very power brokers they blame for a portion of their ills.

Understanding that government, bureaucrats, public servants all serve the needs of the whole country is a portion of modern capitalism that never especially made it to our shores. While Communists and Social Democrats in Europe could be counted on to press ethical standards on government and industry alike, comparable ideological streams never had much success at the same task here.

Wasted natural gas is burned off in North Dakota

North Dakota oil operator flaring natural gas

Across western North Dakota, hundreds of fires rise above fields of wheat and sunflowers and bales of hay. At night, they illuminate the prairie skies like giant fireflies.

They are not wildfires caused by lightning strikes or other acts of nature, but the deliberate burning of natural gas by oil companies rushing to extract oil from the Bakken shale field and take advantage of the high price of crude. The gas bubbles up alongside the far more valuable oil, and with less economic incentive to capture it, the drillers treat the gas as waste and simply burn it.

Every day, more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is flared this way — enough energy to heat half a million homes for a day.

The flared gas also spews at least two million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, as much as 384,000 cars or a medium-size coal-fired power plant would emit, alarming some environmentalists.

All told, 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is burned as waste. No other major domestic oil field currently flares close to that much, though the practice is still common in countries like Russia, Nigeria and Iran…

“North Dakota is not as bad as Kazakhstan, but this is not what you would expect a civilized, efficient society to do: to flare off a perfectly good product just because it’s expensive to bring to market,” said Michael E. Webber, associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin…

Flaring – halted years ago – is a step backward for our domestic energy industry. Most oil and gas fields in the United States have well-developed facilities to gather and process gas as a result of conservation movements, environmental activism – and the days when Congress was pressed into caring about the health of our nation.

Those cares were sent packing by Bush the Little, refused re-entry permits by today’s Republicans and the Kool Aid Party.