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Haga takes over as Norway’s new oil and energy minister – a major change

Posted by African Press International on September 24, 2007

Odd Roger Enoksen (left)is leaving the government, and was replaced by slaug Haga as oil and energy minister. Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa (right) took over Haga’s current job as minister for local governments.

PHOTO: KNUT FALCH/SCANPIX

slaug Haga, a former diplomat who heads Norway’s rural-friendly Center Party, took over Friday as the country’s new minister for oil and energy. She replaces Odd Roger Enoksen, from the same party.

slaug Haga has long cultivated a “green” image.

PHOTO: TERJE BENDIKSBY / SCANPIX

Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa currently heads the Center Party’s members of parliament and will take over responsibility for local governments as kommunal minister.

PHOTO: SCANPIX

Haga most recently has been the cabinet minister in charge of Norway’s townships, and is one of the three leaders of the country’s center-left government coalition.

Now she’s poised to take on an even more demanding ministry in a country fuelled by its oil and gas revenues, but where environmental issues are important. The government has been criticized for failing to follow through on lofty environmental promises made after the 2005 elections, and Haga will be charged with trying to lift the government’s environmental image.

Her appointment comes just as Statoil is taking over the oil and gas operations of industrial firm Norsk Hydro, and environmentalists expect that she will play a tougher role in overseeing the state-controlled Statoil’s activities.

Aftenposten reported that Haga will concentrate on bioenergy and combine that with her party’s constant campaign to direct funding and create jobs in Norway’s outlying districts. A major goal will be to step up development of renewable energy sources.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Enoksen left because the post was too demanding to combine with his family life. He’s also been criticized, however, for failure to focus on renewable energy sources and for not playing a stronger role in Statoil’s looming takeover of Norsk Hydro’s oil and gas operations.

Frustration may have played a role as well. Opposition politicians were quick to point out that Enoksen has repeatedly been “stabbed in the back” by government colleagues when he’d tried to assert his positions. The prime minister’s office reported Friday morning that Enoksen himself decided to resign.

As part of bringing a stronger environmental focus to the oil and energy ministry, Haga is also expected to devote attention to carbon dioxide emission recapture. That was one of the promises made when the center-left government coalition was formed two years ago but put off when Statoil objected to immediate recapture at its proposed gas-fired Mongstad plant.

Center Party veteran Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa, now a member of parliament, took over Haga’s ministerial role. Kleppa was earlier a minister for health and social issues during the center-right government coalition headed by Kjell Magne Bondevik from 1997 to 2000.

The government ministerial changes were confirmed at the weekly Council of State session at the Royal Palace late Friday morning.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN source.aftenposteneng.ntb

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