Work on Volume 4 of the history of Stavanger gave an inspiration to learn more about other oil towns in Norway. The cases chosen are Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Kristiansund, Harstad, Hammerfest and Kongsberg. My purpose is to explore the development of the oil industry in these towns and, further, to compare the towns in regard to which “oil town characteristics” are prevalent. Oil town characteristics include: Management Agencies, public agencies that act as a political and administrative control agency in relation to the oil industry; Economic specialisation (including industry and infrastructure), support bases, company offices and/or engineering or supply industries; Cultural functions, which are limited to oilrelated education and research. These characteristics derive from a knowledge of Stavanger city history and are inspired by the town history model proposed in Knut Helle’s article in «Norsk byhistorie. Urbanisering gjennom 1300 år» (Norwegian town history. Urbanisation through 1300 years).

The historical review of the petroleum industry in the eight towns demonstrates that while some of the towns have established a broad range of activities throughout the entire chain of oil and gas production, others have become more specialised. The explanation may be found in proximity to the fields, local politics, state control and terms of license. The Establishment Act of 1978 and the opening given for oil exploration north of the 62nd parallel in 1980 drew the industry northwards along the coast. The technology agreements in 1980 gave an impetus to the research and development agencies. Further, oil and gas discoveries, oil price and technological improvements were important for the development of fields further north, with support facilities on land.

Further analysis of Norwegian oil towns can give a deeper understanding of the processes that have made towns into oil towns and of what changes have taken place in the towns’ inner structures and their functions in relation to their hinterlands.