Friday, October 7

Norway names Labour’s Aasland as oil minister in cabinet shuffle

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OSLO — Norway’s center-left government has appointed Terje Lien Aasland as minister for petroleum and energy, replacing Marte Mjoes Persen who will take charge of the ministry for labor and social inclusion, the prime minister’s office said on Monday.

Aasland’s appointment places him in charge of energy policy for western Europe’s top oil and gas producing nation at a time of soaring petroleum prices that have boosted Norway’s state revenue while also driving up the domestic cost of electricity.

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“We want to be a predictable, safe supplier of gas to the European market, and it is especially important to show that at a time like the present situation we are in,” Aasland told Reuters following his appointment.

Norway is looking at how adjustments of the maintenance schedule at oil and gas fields as well as re-injection levels of gas could help secure more supplies to Europe, he said.

The planned restart of the country’s only liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the Arctic town of Hammerfest scheduled for mid-May will also have a positive impact for a market in need of gas, he added.

Aasland, a 16-year veteran member of parliament for Labour, currently chairs the energy and environment committee.

While the minority government of Labour and the Centre Party has introduced subsidies for households hit by a spike in power prices, the opposition has said the measures offered were insufficient.

Marte Mjoes Persen, in charge of the energy ministry since October, will move to the labor ministry where she replaces Hadia Tajik, who resigned last week. (Reporting by Nora Buli, editing by Terje Solsvik and Hugh Lawson)