Hello Nollaig-ga, and thank you for your challenging question.
Norway has had a Freedom of Information law in place since 1970. The
country has a fairly good reputation for openness in terms of access
to government records.
Making a request for offical information is a pretty straightforward
process, and I'll be happy to walk you through it here. The only real
trick is deciding what, specifically to ask for, and who to ask. I'll
provide some guidance below on both these matters, in order to
maximize the chances that your request will result in some fruitful
You should be aware, however, that there's a real possibility that no
useful information will be turned up by your request.
On the one hand, the government agencies in Norway may simply not have
the information you are looking for in their files. On the other
hand, even if the information is there, the agencies have a good deal
of latitude in deciding how -- or even whether -- to respond to a
Freedom of Information request. They may simply decide the
information you want is not releasable to the public.
The best you can do is make a well-crafted, focused request for
information, and see what happens. With a bit of luck, you may well
find the information you need.
Let me tackle the last part of your question right up front...You
asked if it would be possible for me to make the information request
on your behalf. The answer to this question is "Yes, it's possible"
-- but I would strongly advise against it.
Customers and researchers at Google Answers are not allowed to
exchange personal information, such as names and addresses.
Therefore, there is no way for us to correpond, other than right here
by posting comments to one another. Even if my information request
was successful and I received a stack of papers from Norway on your
behalf, I would have no way to get the information to you. The only
option would be to summarize it, and post that summary here in a
I suspect that would not be a very desirable option for you, so at the
risk of repeating myself, I strongly advise that you file the
information requests yourself, rather than go through a Google Answer
researcher as an intermediary.
If you want to discuss this matter further, however, just let me know
by posting a Request for Clarification, and we can continue the
discussion. For that matter, if anything in the answer I've given
below is unclear, or requires elaboration, just let me know, and I'll
be happy to assist you further.
Some Background on Norway's Freedom of Information Law:
As you mentioned in your question, the name of the law in Norwegian is
"Offentlighets Loven". It was enacted in 1970, and updated in 1997.
An unofficial English version of the law can be found at the Norway
The law applies -- with a few key exceptions -- to agencies of the
Norwegian government at the national and local levels, and in lay
terms, any official documents created by these agencies or received by
them, are subject to release under a Freedom of Information request
from any person.
There is nothing in the law to stipulate that the person must be
Norwegian, and my own experience in Freedom of Information in several
countries is that nationality is not a factor...anyone can make a
Freedom of Information request.
As I mentioned, there are exemptions built into the law to protect
state secrets, national security, individual privacy, and so on.
Without going into a great deal of detail, the law is somewhat
two-faced. On the one hand, there is a presumption that a document
should be released to the public unless there is a compelling reason
not to do so. On the other hand, it is pretty much up to each
individual agency to make the decision as to whether they have a
compelling reason or not.
A An agency must respond in some fashion to a Freedom of Information
request. If the request is denied, the agency must explain why. A
decision not to release a document can be appealed under the law.
In general, there is no charge for information received under a
Freedom of Information request, although for very sizable requests, an
Agency can ask reasonable fees for photocopying, etc.
Making a Freedom of Information Act Request in Norway:
As I said earlier, you will need to decide (1) what to ask and (2) who
to ask. I'll take up (2), below, but for now, let's discuss crafting
a good request.
If there is a very specific document you are interested in, your
request is fairly easy...just describe the document in as much detail
as is available, and keep your fingers crossed.
For instance, a request worded as follows would be perfectly
"Under the provisions of Norway's Freedom of Information Law, I am
requesting copies of the minutes of meetings held in Norway by the
Board of Statoil Norway and BP-Ireland in the period between January
and March, 1992, regarding the takeover of BP-Ireland by Statoil."
While this is a perfectly legitimate request, it may also be overly
precise, unless the minutes are the only documents of interest to you.
By overly precise, I mean this. Suppose an agency does not have in
its files the actual minutes of the meetings, but DOES have, related
materials, such as a briefing memo used to prepare for the meeting, or
a copy of a presentation made at the meeting. If your request is
being handled by a literal-minded bureaucrat, he or she is likely to
say "Too bad...no minutes in the file" and you will not receive any
information in response to your request.
In order to cast a somewhat broader net, you may to submit a request
along these lines:
"Under the provisions of Norway's Freedom of Information Law, I am
requesting copies of any material pertaining to meetings held in
Norway by the Board of Statoil Norway and BP-Ireland in the period
between January and March, 1992, regarding the takeover of BP-Ireland
by Statoil. The materials of interest include -- but are not limited
to -- meeting minutes or summaries, preparatory memos, briefing
materials, attendee lists, presentations, correspondence, business
plans, or other materials related to the takeover of BP-Ireland by
Of course, this type of language makes sense ONLY if you are
interested in these materials...if the meeting minutes are the only
real item of interest, then you should stick with a very focused
request that asks ONLY for the minutes. But if related materials may
also serve your purposes, then the language above would increase the
odds of getting any materials pertaining to the meeting you are
interested in, without casting overly wildly.
By overly wildly, I mean you should not make a request like: "Send me
all the information you have on Statoil". You'll end up with a box of
annual reports and such, with probably nothing of much interest. Keep
your eye on the prize, and keep the language of your request well
Where to Send a Freedom of Information Request:
Unfortunately, there is not a single point of contact in Norway that
receives Freedom of Information requests. It is up to you to
determine which agency or agencies of the Norwegian government are the
ones most likely to have information of interest to you, and to
contact each of these agencies with an individual request.
I've identified here the most likely agencies for you to contact.
I've also provided some resources so you can have a look at other
agencies, and decided if they should receive a request as well.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD)in Norway is the government
body in charge of...well...petroleum. Their website is at:
[Note: I am providing the English version of websites, but if you
speak Norwegian, you can explore the companion sites as well]
"The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate shall contribute to creating the
highest possible values for society from from oil and gas activities
founded on a sound management of resources, safety and the
NPD maintains a page on access to information, which can be found
and contains instructions for filing a Freedom of Information request:
...Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's case documents are public as long
as no exceptions are made in the statutes, or pursuant to statutes.
Anyone can demand access to the public content of the NPD's case
documents in a particular case. This is governed by the (Norwegian)
Freedom of Information Act and the (Norwegian) Public Administration
According to Section 2 of the Freedom of Information Act, exceptions
from public access shall be based on or pursuant to statutes. Sections
4 to 6 of the Freedom of Information Act provide some central
authorizations for exceptions. Information that is subject to
confidentiality shall be exempt from public disclosure. Other
information or documents can be excepted in certain instances.
Who can apply for access to case documents?
Anyone can apply for access to documents. The inquiry must relate to
case documents in a specific case. "Case document" is defined in
Section 3 of the Freedom of Information Act.
How to apply?
Please send requests in writing in letter form, to fax +47 51 55 15 71
or the following e-mail address email@example.com. Requests can also be
made to the Main Archives, tel. +47 51 87 60 38.
Applications for access to documents must contain the name, address,
telephone and fax number of the person making the request, as well as
a description of the document. Please state the case and document
number from a public case register or other source, if known.
You asked in your question whether you could make a Fredom of
Information Act request on-line. The answer is Yes, and the e-mail
address for a request to NPD, as noted above, is:
You might also want to contact the NPD Library at:
to ask them (politely) if they have any information relevant to your
Note the language used by NPD regarding "case registers". This is the
formal term for a government document as used in the Freedom of
Information Act...your request should not be hindered in any way by
not having a specific document number to reference. Simply describe
the document(s) of interest in as much detail as you can.
Lastly, I want to point out this page of "Contacts" at NPD:
which includes the NPD team responsible for Statoil:
The team follows up Statoil ASA
Contact person: Torleif Huseb?l. +47 51876752
[sorry for the ? in the name -- my browser didn't resolve the
Norwegian character in the name]
Deputy contact person: Johnny Gundersen, tel. +47 51876130
You may want to contact either or both of these staffers to make them
aware of your information needs. If they have been in their positions
since 1999, they may have a good "institutional memory" about the
Another branch of government that you will want to send a Freedom of
Information request to is the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy:
The Ministry is in charge of energy policy for the country, and is
also a likely source of information on matters involving Statoil. The
Ministry maintains a contact page at:
"You are invited to use this form to send a message or a question or,
voice your comments to the Minister of Petroleum and Energy."
Use the form provided to post your Freedom of Information Act request
to the Ministry. Note the language on the form regarding your post:
"E-mail and other mail to Norwegian ministries is subject to the
provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (Act of 19 June 1970 No.
69 relating to public access to documents in the public
administration). This means that others may be able to access the
content of your message. Do not include personal or other information
in your message that you would not wish to become public knowledge."
In theory, someone else could submit an information request for a copy
of your email. In practice, this is unlikely to occur. But if it is
a concern, just include language in your request that you would like
personal information (your name and address, for instance) to be kept
A similar form for the Minister of Trade and Industry can be found
All the Ministries have a similar contacts page on their web sites. I
think that contacting the NPD, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy,
and the Ministry of Trade and Industry will probably meet your needs,
but if you wish to contact other Ministries as well, they are listed
Lastly, there is the matter of Statoil themselves. As a partly
government-owned company, is Statoil subject to the provisions of the
Freedom of Information Law?
I could not find any information suggesting this question has been
addressed, or answered, one way or another. My guess, from a reading
of the law itself, is that (a) Statoil can certainly claim they are
not covered and (b) even if they are covered, they could claim meeting
minutes as exempt trade secrets and related commercial information.
Searching the Statoil website for the phrase "freedom of information"
comes up with the following result:
No documents satisfied your search criteria.
((freedom of information))
However...it never hurts to ask! Send them a Freedom of Information
request. Although email requests are fine for government agencies, I
would suggest a dual approach to Statoil...send them and email AND a
paper letter, to increase the odds that your inquiry gets on the desk
of the right person in the organization who can make a decision about
Their contact information is:
Statoil head office
Tel: +47 51 99 00 00
Fax: +47 51 99 00 50
By the way, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Statoil is Inge K
Hansen. I would suggest addressing the letter directly to him.
You might also want to send an information request to Statoil in
Ireland. But unlike the other correspondences, I wouldn't phrase this
as a Freedom of Information Act request, since the Ireland operations
are not run by the Irish government and not subject to Irish law
pertaining to access to government records.
Just send them a polite, specific request. If you think it would
help, you can also include the reason you are asking for the
information -- if it is for, say, an academic research project this
may help them decide to provide the information. Conversely, if
you're, say, preparing a lawsuit against the company, it might be best
to omit this little detail.
Statoil Ireland can be contacted at:
Statoil Ireland Ltd.
Statoil Exploration Ireland Ltd.
6 George's Dock
International Financial Services Centre
Tel: +353 16 36 81 00
Fax: +353 18 18 01 00
I've provided a good deal of information here...I hope it is exactly
what you need. To recap, you asked several particular questions:
What do I have to do to in making a Freedom of Information law
Just write a simple email and/or letter stating what information you
need, and providing your name, address and other contact information.
Do I have to visit Norway?
No. Nor do you need to be a citizen of Norway.
Is there an application fee?
There is no fee. However, for unusually large requests, the
responding agency may ask you to pay reasonable duplication fees. If
so, it is customary for the agency to notify you of this ahead of
time, to confirm that you are willing to pay the fee.
I also need to know if it is possible to make an application online?
Yes, and this is all that is needed for contacting government
agencies. If you decide to contact Statoil as well, I would suggest
both email and a letter (on paper) as your best option.
Would it be possible for you to submit the application on my behalf?
As I discussed at length, above, I don't think this is advisable since
it is not an easily workable solution.
Best of luck to you in your efforts. I am a big believer in the power
of information and in the rights of information access made manifest
in the Freedom of Information acts around the world.
If there is anything I can do to further support you in your quest for
information -- or if you would like additional explanations of
anything I've mentioned here -- don't hesitate to ask. You don't even
need to file a Freedom of Information request...a simple Request for
Clarification will do!
search strategy: Google search on "freedom of information" Norway