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Oil Exploration, Oil | Ola Borten Moe owns nine million in oil companies:

The Center Party’s oil millionaire does not want to rule out a job as Minister of Petroleum, but faces opposition: – It can have serious consequences.

Should Norway look for more oil or not? The issue has become even more politically inflamed after the UN’s alarming latest climate report was presented on 9 August. Both the Labor Party and the Center Party refuse to set an end date, while SV, Venstre and MDG will end the oil exploration.

A key Norwegian politician has been directly involved in recent oil investments. The Center Party’s deputy leader Ola Borten Moe, former Minister of Petroleum and Energy, started the company Okea in 2015 together with Erik Haugane, Anton Tronstad and Knut Evensen, two years after he resigned as Minister.

The business idea was to buy into licenses with discoveries on the Norwegian shelf and participate in the development of these. The company bought 44.56 per cent of the Draugen field and 12.0 per cent of the Gjøa field, and has been the operator of the Draugen from 30 November 2018.

As the Center Party’s first deputy leader, Borten Moe is a self-appointed ministerial candidate in the event of a change of government. To Nettavisen, he will neither confirm nor deny whether he thinks it is okay to be both the owner of an oil company and the Minister of Petroleum (more on that further down). It arouses strong skepticism:

– It is not trustworthy, and can have serious consequences if he becomes Minister of Petroleum, says MDG’s energy politician Ask Ibsen Lindal

Also read: Will end oil exploration immediately: – Poor ethics and poor business

Oil wealth of close to 9 million

Okea was listed on the stock exchange on 18 June 2019, and at the time of writing has a market value of NOK 1.55 billion. According to Okea’s own shareholder overview, Borten Moe currently owns 0.57% of the company through his wholly owned company Skjefstad Vestre AS – he is the 13th largest owner in the company.

The market value gives Borten Moe a fortune in the company of NOK 8.7 million.

In 2020, Borten Moe ended up in the spotlight for intense lobbying on behalf of Okea, even though he was no longer in the management of the company. In an article in DN in June last year, it was revealed that Okea was the only oil company that lobbyed for better conditions in a tax package related to corona measures:

– Okea is the only individual company that has provided input to the finance committee about the oil tax and especially what is called negative forward tax, SV’s fiscal policy spokesperson Kari Elisabeth Kaski told DN.

Also read: Erna Solberg casts doubt on oil exploration in new areas

– Very unmusical if it is considered

MDG’s energy policy spokesman, Ask Ibsen Lindal, fears that the Center Party politician will once again take over the oil minister’s office. Lindal is also his party’s first candidate for Sør-Trøndelag, and competes with the Center Party’s deputy leader for a seat in the Storting.

The MDG compares Borten Moe’s position with Lisbeth Berg Hanssen (Labor), former Minister of Fisheries with private interests in the fishing industry. He thinks it is obvious that Borten Moe can end up in a conflict of interest:

– Here, Borten Moe must feel his own political conscience. It does not serve anyone in such a position to be suspected. He can not go in as Minister of Petroleum and Energy, and it is very unmusical if it is considered at all, Lindal says to Nettavisen.

SV’s Kari Elisabeth Kaski is less bombastic, but clear on the principle:

SV will not say anything about other parties’ ministers. I assume that not all ministers are incompetent in the role they should have, but I do not want to go into this when it comes to individuals, Kaski says to Nettavisen.

Also read: Sharp fall for the Center Party on a new TV 2 poll

– Up to others to decide

Borten Moe denies to Nettavisen that the problem is anything other than hypothetical. At the same time, he does not want to rule out that the two roles can be combined.

– Habilitation must always be maintained. And that is the good system for in the state. If it should be a challenge, it will of course be solved, Borten Moe writes in an SMS to Nettavisen.

The deputy leader of the Center Party did not want a telephone interview about this, and therefore the conversation continued via text messages:

– OK, this is hypothetical, but relevant: is it compatible to retain ownership in Okea and at the same time have a role as a minister related to the oil sector and / or energy?

– We get to discuss hypotheses if it should become a reality.

– You can have an opinion on impartiality even if ministerial posts are of course not handed out before the election? You are a former Minister of Petroleum and started a company in the oil industry after that: can you be Minister of Petroleum and own oil shares at the same time? Yes or no?

– The point of impartiality is strictly speaking that you do not assess it yourself. And that is why there is a good system for this in the state. By the way, it is good for politics that teachers, fishermen, farmers, oil workers and others with a lived life can participate.

Borten Moe informs Nettavisen that it has greater values ​​in “soil, barn and tractor” than oil, but also a lot of debt.

– So I’m not a big capitalist, I’m probably in line with those who own a house or an ok apartment in one of our larger cities, says Borten Moe.

– We will not always go to the legal bottom level

According to Ask Ibsen Lindal, small networks contribute to getting people to easily have problems in Norwegian politics:

– We have enormous resources, but small networks in our small country. It quickly goes wrong when the distance between politicians and the industry they are to regulate becomes too small. There must be orderly conditions and no doubt that one serves the people and not special interests.

Lindal also believes that it is not necessarily a matter of finding out what is legally tenable:

– We will not always go to the legal bottom level. It is not trustworthy, and can have serious consequences if he becomes Minister of Petroleum, also because of the network he possesses. We as a country cannot have it like that. Then we get stagnation, disorder and gray areas all the way.

Lindal also responds to Borten Moe’s statements on the issue of impartiality:

– It is serious that Borten Moe tries to downplay this by saying that he has “lived life” as an oil worker. He has direct ownership interests, a large network of special interests and has on several occasions shown that he would rather work from his own attitudes in oil and energy policy than the adopted policy of the party organization he is on the list for.

Ola Borten Moe has been presented with the criticism from Lindal, but has chosen not to comment on it.

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