Post Petroleum Security in Lofoten: How identity matters

  • Berit Kristoffersen
  • Brigt Dale


Based on over 60 interviews and fieldwork in Lofoten, Norway, over a five-year period (2008 – 2013), this paper argues that local identity is a ‘missing link’ with significant explanatory value when analyzing the contested matter of whether to open for oil drilling in this region. Through a Giddensian approach to ontological security, we identify a major discrepancy between local and national discourses on ‘post-petroleum security’ concerns for the Lofoten region and its inhabitants – concerns that neither national political debates nor academic discourse have adequately included. Thus, we highlight time as a variable separating local and state-centered perspectives on what sustains (ontological) security. We show how an understanding of historically viable communities is of core concern for the re-establishment of an identity-based security. Further, environmental and societal risks associated with petroleum development influence the perceived balance between short-term needs for jobs, and long-term needs for continued production of local, practice-based knowledge upon which a specific coastal identity is built. We also discuss how Lofoten has been put on the petroleum map as one of the last petroleum frontiers, and conclude that an analysis including identity as a variable can inform international debates concerning the ‘opening’ of the circumpolar Arctic for extractive industries.

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How to Cite
Kristoffersen, B., & Dale, B. (2017). Post Petroleum Security in Lofoten: How identity matters. Arctic Review, 5(2). Retrieved from
Original Articles
Arctic, environmental security, ontological security, identity, petroleum, Lofoten, Norway