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SAMKUL-Samfunnsutviklingens kulturell

Oil workers and their climate struggle

Alternative title: Oljearbeidernes klimakamp

Awarded: NOK 0.48 mill.

Since 2019, Norway has experienced a remarkable rise in the public discussion of the role of the oil worker. Facing growing calls for speedy emission cuts and a phase-out of oil and gas extraction, oil workers have responded publically by trying to muster pride in their work, and reject the notion of so-called 'oil shame'. In a polarised climate debate where many actors voice their views about oil workers, or even talk on behalf of them, there are few attempts at exploring the dilemmas of climate change through talking with oil workers. To attach our ongoing research on oil workers in a green transition to this debate, we are developing a research-informed documentary project. The main narrative of this documentary will be based on how oil workers and unionists in Norway, Nigeria, and the US experience their own lifeworlds, how they reflect on climate change and its politics, and how these workers relate to the lifeworlds of oil workers elsewhere. Our initial plan was to make three individuals from these three countries meet at a petroleum conference in Stavanger in 2020, but the ongoing pandemic has forced us to introduce these workers to each other by different, and digital, means. As the production of the documentary project has proceeded, we have also included other viewpoints and additional individual perspectives to construct a narrative that seeks to grasp some of the paradoxes undergirding the current public conversation around transformation: the polarisation between industrial workers and environmental activists, and the competition between workers in different national economies facing a global phase-out of fossil fuel extraction. Finally, in 2022, two of the protagonists in the documentary were able to meet in-person during our WAGE project closing conference in June. The research team of the WAGE project are involved with the Media Section of Oslo Metropolitan University in finalising the documentary and planning various dissemination and dialogue activities based on the film.

WAGESTORIES allerede gitt mange resultater i form av digitale og fysiske visninger av film: på konferanser som Broen til Fremtiden, i internasjonale zoom-webinarer i regi av forskningsprosjektet WAGE, i fokusgruppeforskning. WAGESTORIES er på ingen måte avsluttet, og forskerne planlegger videre redigering og bruk av filmene til møtevirksomhet på flere steder i Norge i 2022-2023. Samtidig har den høye aktiviteten og de stadig endrede rammevilkårene (som følge av pandemiens reiserestriksjoner og begrensede ressurser på redigeringssiden) gjort at produksjonen av en dokumentar for tv-visningen fortsatt ikke er ferdigstilt. Vi har store forhåpninger til at gjennomførte og framtidige aktiviteter i WAGESTORIES vil medvirke til et mer konstruktivt politisk landskap i omstillingen av norsk oljebransje og i samtaler mellom aktører i hjemlig oljebransje og andre steder. Etter at produksjonen er ferdigstilt og vi har gjennomført flere formidlingsaktiviteter, vil vi innhente uttalelser fra sentrale aktører som kan kommentere på den samfunnsmessige verdien av aktivitetene i prosjektet.

The last year has seen a remarkable rise in the public discussion of the role of the oil worker in Norway. Realising the relevance of the WAGE project to these debates, WAGESTORIES represents a significant expansion of the original plans to use video material in the WAGE research project. Two unionized oil workers in Norway will be the key characters of a three part documentary series on how oil and gas workers themselves see their role in the societal and internal change necessary for a climate change transformation. The documentary series will consist of three episodes: "Lifeworlds", "Climate change challenges" and "Transition choices". The series will be presented by Andreas Ytterstad, who will follow these key characters as they prepare for the Petrocultures Conference in Stavanger in 2020 where WAGE has set up a panel entitled "The climate struggle of oil workers". The other researchers of WAGE will also figure in the series, as they reflect on their research of oil workers facing climate change, in Norway, Nigeria, and California. Multiple cameras from the media section of OsloMet will film the panel at the PETROCULTURES2020 Conference, chaired by Ytterstad. Oil workers in both Norway and California will be on the podium, as will Camilla Houeland, our researcher on Nigeria. The Media Section of OsloMet will follow the two oil workers in Norway, travel and film the PETROCULTURES2020 panel and edit the series, together with Ytterstad. Vivian Price will provide footage of oil workers in California, and Camilla Houeland will do the same from Nigeria.

Funding scheme:

SAMKUL-Samfunnsutviklingens kulturell