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Norway’s central bank governor now fears a return to US$100 oil

Norway’s central bank governor now fears a return to US$100 oil

Talk of a return to US$100 oil has the central bank chief of western Europe’s largest petroleum producer worried.

A recovery in the oil price to US$80 a barrel has been a boon for the Norwegian economy, helping to narrow a widening budget gap and fueling activity. It even this month triggered the first rate increase in seven years. But the nation’s central bank governor is now warning that too high an oil price could again release undue euphoria in the petroleum industry.

“There could be a danger that when the oil price gets too high we’ll end up back in the situation where there’s too little cost awareness in the industry,” Governor Oystein Olsen said in an interview on Tuesday. “The Norwegian petroleum sector would benefit from less volatility over time.”

Norway was hit hard by a crash in oil prices in 2014, which saw unemployment soar and slowed revenue to state coffers. A massive injection of fiscal and monetary stimulus saved the economy from an outright recession as the central bank cut interest rates to record lows and the government dipped into its US$1 trillion sovereign wealth fund for the first time.