Arctic petroleum’s community impacts: Local perceptions from Hammerfest, Norway

Energy Research & Social Science, Vol 16, June 2016, pp. 25-34

This article examines perceptions of petroleum developments in the Norwegian Arctic town of Hammerfest, especially in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Based on eighteen semi-structured interviews conducted in Hammerfest, the perceived effects of petroleum developments are identified and discussed. Local support for petroleum activity is high, particularly given the upsurge in job opportunities and economic ripple effects, both of which are considered essential to the community's survival. Environmental concerns and opposition to oil and gas are largely ascribed to external forces and do not feature as much in the locals’ perceptions. While CSR is not part of the interviewees' vocabulary, the local population has clear expectations and views about petroleum companies' responsibilities to their community. In order to grasp the full picture of the Arctic petroleum debate, it is important to acknowledge that expectations, desires, and reality on the ground will sometimes diverge strongly from non-local considerations.