Houston and Norway: Sisters in Suffering
Not unlike the effect Spindletop’s first big gusher had on Houston in 1901, the 1969 discovery of oil in the North Sea changed everything for Norway.
At the time, the standard of living in the tiny country was 30 to 40 percent lower than what its neighbors in Sweden and Denmark enjoyed. Half a century later, Norway was the world’s fourth-richest country, with salaries 50 percent higher than those in the rest of Europe. For years, its economy seemed insulated from the financial woes that plagued the rest of the E.U., just as Houston’s diversified economy flourished while the rest of the U.S. stagnated.
But how the worm has turned: As the price of oil continues to reach record lows, both Houston and Norway are plagued by job losses and beset by worries that perhaps their economies weren’t as insulated as previously imagined. SAS once offered six direct flights a week between Houston and Stavanger, the energy capital of Norway, all of which have now been discontinued (the Bayou City is home to not only 150 Norwegian O&G companies but the largest population of its expats in the world). For every round of layoffs in Houston, an equally savage toll is exacted across the Atlantic.
Here, a look at a few of the numbers we share with our sister across the sea, and a few we don’t.