Petoro’s history began in many respects with the creation of the SDFI as part of “clipping Statoil’s wings” in 1984-85. However, it was founded as a company in 2001 when the partial privatisation of Statoil in that year made a new management system for the SDFI necessary.
Statoil’s rapid growth, which was giving it a dominant position in Norway’s oil sector and in the Norwegian economy generally, was hotly debated in the early 1980s. At the same time, the Conservative government under Kåre Willoch worried about the risk inherent in a relatively young company managing a very large part of the government’s revenues.
Under a broad compromise negotiated between the government and the opposition Labour Party, it was resolved to transfer roughly half of Statoil’s licence holdings to the SDFI. As part of the settlement, Statoil nevertheless retained the whole of its big interest in Statfjord and large holdings in Gullfaks and other important fields.