Lower operating profit in 2019 due to declining oil and gas extraction


Public non-financial corporations achieved reduced operating profit in 2019 compared to the previous year. This is mainly due to the drop of the operating income for businesses in the mining and quarry industries as well as manufacturing industries.

Public non-financial corporations achieved some NOK 265 billion in operating profit in 2019, according to new figures from Public corporations, accounts. This accounted for 22 per cent of the operating income. The corresponding figure for 2018 was NOK 345 billion and 26 per cent, respectively.

The operating profit before tax in 2019 was NOK 363 billion. This is about 30 per cent of the operating income. The corresponding figures for 2018 were NOK 512 billion and 38 per cent respectively.

Figure 1. Operating profit. Public non-financial corporations

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Operating profit (NOK million) 319156 173905 129027 280229 344900 265078

The decrease in the profit is mainly due to decrease in operating income in mining and quarrying industry. These industries contributed some NOK 215 billion in operating profit. The industry is dominated by State's Direct Financial Interest 1 (SDFI) and Equinor ASA. SDFI achieved operating profit of NOK 97 billion.

The electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply were the second largest industry in 2019 and had a total of NOK 36 billion in operating profit.

The information and communication industry achieved an operating profit of NOK 5 billion in 2019. In the transportation and storage industries the operating profit was NOK 3 billion. The major corporations in this industry include Telenor ASA, Posten Norge AS and The Norwegian State Railways (Vy).

Major operating profit in central government corporations

While the operating profit in the central government corporations was almost NOK 143 billion, the central government quasi-corporations realised a total operating profit of almost NOK 97 billion. The central government corporations and the central government quasi-corporations accounted for about 90 per cent of the total operating profit.

The operating profit of the local government-owned enterprises was almost NOK 25 billion in 2019.

Figure 2. Operating profit, by sector. 2019. Per cent

Per cent
Public limited companies owned by the state 54.1 % 54.1
Central government quasi-corporations 36.6 % 36.6
Public limited companies owned by the municipalities 9.3 % 9.3

Increase in asset value

The value of public non-financial corporations’ total assets was around NOK 3 776 billion at the end of 2019. This was an increase of about NOK 255 billion from the previous year. The value of the fixed assets increased by 10 per cent, while the value of the current assets was reduced with 7 per cent.

Most of the capital is located within a small number of companies. Approximately 50 corporations contributed more than three quarters of the total assets. Each of these corporations has an asset value of more than NOK 8 billion. Fifteen of these capital-intensive enterprises are owned by local government and these are mostly in the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply industry.

The financial situation

The public non-financial corporations had a relatively stable financial structure in the period 2014 to 2019. The equity ratio in 2019 was about 49 per cent.

Furthermore, the ratio of fixed assets to long-term capital has been relatively stable at around 1. This implies the fixed assets had mainly been financed by long-term capital.

Central government quasi-corporations have been excluded here because the equity in these corporations cannot be compared with other public corporations.

The current ratio decreased from 0.93 in 2018 to 0.89 in 2019. A current ratio less than 1 means the current assets are less than the current liabilities. The figures do not necessarily illustrate the enterprises’ liquidity and therefore require careful consideration.

Public ownership

Both the central and the local government have a significant ownership interest in Norwegian business and industry. The public companies vary with regard to their economic activity. The level of ownership varies from holdings in large listed corporations to small fully-owned enterprises. The corporations are involved in activities such as mining and quarrying, energy supply, transport, real estate operations and rehabilitation. Mining and quarrying is the dominating business area and includes the State’s Direct Finance Investment (SDFI) and Equinor among others. Corporations in the transportation and storage industry are the largest employers. These industries include Posten Norge AS and The Norwegian State Railways (Vy).


All in all, Statistics Norway was able to obtain accounting data on about 3 200 public non-financial corporations for 2019. There were also about 100 public corporations for which Statistics Norway was unable to obtain accounting data.

Types of corporations

Central and local governments are mainly engaged in the following types of Corporations:
- Private limited companies and public limited companies, including public Corporations.
- Central and local government market entities, so-called quasi-corporations.
- Companies incorporated by special legislation.


The accounting figures are collected from Petoros AS Annual Accounting Report for 2019.