Norway's Power Play

Its two big oil companies merge to create an outfit designed to compete with BP and Exxon as well as Iran

Dag Myrestrand / Statoilhydro

Exterior view of the sleipner natural gas and light oil offshore platform owned by Statoilhydro, Norway.

It was a week Eivind Reiten is unlikely to forget. On Oct. 1, the oil and gas arm of Hydro, an Oslo-based energy-and-metals company he was running, completed a $36 billion merger with Statoil, its beefier Norwegian rival, creating the world's largest offshore energy operator. Five days later, Reiten hosted his country's King and Queen in Nyhamna, a third of the way up Norway's west coast, at the official launch of a record-breaking gas-production and -processing project forged by Hydro to harness gas from 75 miles (120 km) away under the Norwegian Sea.

But the week wasn't all sweet. Between the creation...

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