OSLO (REUTERS) - Norway's centre-left election winners meet on Thursday (Sept 23) for three-way talks to determine whether they can form a majority coalition government, with oil, taxes and EU relations among the sticking points.
Labour, the Socialists and the Centre Party won a majority of seats in Norway's parliament on Sept 13, beating the ruling Conservative-led government, with a transfer of power likely to take place next month.
Labour leader Jonas Gahr Stoere, who is expected to become Norway's next prime minister, has during the last week held individual meetings with Centre Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum and the Socialist Left's Audun Lysbakken.
But Thursday's gathering at a resort an hour's drive north of Oslo is believed to be the first time the three will sit down together since the election.
Billed as exploratory talks, the initial phase is set to determine whether detailed negotiations should be opened next week, or if Stoere has to settle for ruling in a minority.
Norway's status as an oil and gas producer, contributing to climate change, was at the heart of the election campaign, although a transition away from petroleum is likely to be gradual despite progress by pro-environment parties.
Norway's oil and gas industry pumps around 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, accounting for over 40 per cent of export revenues, although output is projected to fall from 2030 onwards.
The Socialist Party wants to halt all exploration for new resources, which would hasten the oil industry's decline, but Labour and Centre have rejected this position.
Labour is wary of potential job losses from petroleum's demise, and champions state-sponsored policies to encourage a transfer of engineering know-how from oil production to renewable energy.
Norway's incumbent government, led by Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg, conceded the election on Sept 13 and will step down as soon as Labour is ready to form a cabinet.