In the early 1970s, the state in both Britain and Norway increased its capacity to control offshore petroleum activities; it remained for policy makers in the latter half of the decade to decide how much of this capacity would be utilized. In both countries Labor governments breathed life into the reforms by enthusiastically implementing new tools of intervention and continuing to expand the state's control of activities on the continental shelf. This chapter explores that period of implementation, when the ability of the two states to control petroleum activities reached its zenith.
We saw in the previous chapter how the discovery of oil in the North Sea and the OPEC revolution created the opportunity for the expansion of state capacity in Britain and Norway. Continued success in the North Sea and a favorable international climate made the late 1970s an ideal time for petroleum producing states, like Britain and Norway, to solidify and expand their control of domestic production. The foreign oil companies, now dethroned from their position atop the petroleum market, sullenly accepted their new roles as submissive distributors of Middle Eastern oil. 1 Their heightened desire for new sources of crude, preferably from fields they owned in politically reliable countries, further raised their interest in North Sea territory and consequently lowered their ability to resist determined government efforts to curtail their existing rights.
Continued high prices also favored producer governments who were able to raise taxes and impose tough conditions on companies, while still guaranteeing them adequate profits. 2 The situation was particularly favorable at the end of the decade when a second round