Norsk Hydro

Last updated
Norsk Hydro ASA
Traded as OSE: NHY
Industry Metals
Headquarters Oslo, Norway
Key people
Hilde Merete Aasheim (President and CEO), Dag Mejdell (Chairman)
Products Aluminium and related products; hydropower and solar power technologies
RevenueIncrease2.svg NOK 109,220 million (2017) [1]
Increase2.svg NOK 11,215 million (2017) [1]
Increase2.svg NOK 9,184 million (2017) [1]
Total assets Increase2.svg NOK 163,327 million (2017) [1]
Number of employees
35,000 (end 2017) [2]
The Norsk Hydro plant at Heroya, Norway Hydro Heroya.jpg
The Norsk Hydro plant at Herøya, Norway

Norsk Hydro ASA (often referred to as just Hydro) is a Norwegian aluminium and renewable energy company, headquartered in Oslo. It is one of the largest aluminium companies worldwide. [3] It has operations in some 50 countries around the world and is active on all continents. The Norwegian state owns 34.3% of the company through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. A further 6.5% is owned by Folketrygdfond, which administers the Government Pension Fund of Norway. Norsk Hydro employs approximately 35,000 people. [4] Hilde Merete Aasheim has been the CEO since May, 2019. [5]


Hydro had a significant presence in the oil and gas industry until October 2007, when these operations were merged with Statoil to form StatoilHydro (in 2009 changed back to Statoil, which is now called Equinor).


First steps with fertilizer

Financed by the Swedish Wallenberg family and French banks, the company was founded on December 2, 1905 as Norsk hydro-elektrisk Kvælstofaktieselskab (lit. Norwegian hydro-electric nitrogen limited) by Sam Eyde, exploiting a novel technology for producing artificial fertilizers by fixing nitrogen from air. The technology had been developed by the Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland. The method is still known as the Birkeland–Eyde process. The process required large amounts of electric energy, and for this, a power plant was built at the Svelgfossen waterfall near Notodden. Later also Rjukan Falls was developed and its power harnessed, in the process establishing the city of Rjukan, establishing the plant Norsk Hydro Rjukan.

Hydro's first factory was built at Notodden (opened in 1907) followed up with another at Rjukan, Tinn (opened in 1911). Then in 1912 production is established at Glomfjord in Nordland. In 1930 Norsk Hydro opened a plant at Herøya outside Porsgrunn. To begin with it was to function as a shipping port for the fertilizer as well as a point to import limestone. From 1936 Hydro also started producing fertilizer at Herøya. There was also opened a railway, Rjukanbanen, connecting Rjukan with Hærøy. The railway opened in 1909 and consisted of a railway ferry across Lake Tinn, railway again with the Tinnoset Line and a barge ride from Borgestad to Herøya with barge on the Telemark Canal. The canal was superseded by the Bratsberg Line in 1916.

By the 1920s, Norsk Hydro's electric arc-based technology for manufacturing artificial fertilizer was no longer able to compete with the newly developed Haber-Bosch process, and in 1927 the company formed a partnership with the German company IG Farben in order to gain access to this process. By 1945, IG Farben had become a majority shareholder in Norsk Hydro. The plant at Herøya was a direct result of no longer being dependent on immediate proximity to the power sources. This provided the advantage of being able to have the plants and the shipping port in the same location, as was the case with the Herøya plant.

Heavy water production at Rjukan

Heavy water sample made by Norsk Hydro Deuterium oxide Norsk.jpg
Heavy water sample made by Norsk Hydro

The Rjukan plant was the only location in Europe which produced heavy water, a component the Allied powers in World War II feared would be used as part of the German atomic bomb project. At the time, German industrial conglomerate I.G. Farben owned stock in Norsk Hydro, which then produced less than 11 litres (3  US gal ) of heavy water per month, and the company was approached to increase its deuterium output to at least 110 litres (30 US gal) per month. [6] Although Hydro's management had previously refused to supply the heavy water, the company relinquished its resistance and agreed to supply 1.5 tons of the material per year upon Norway's surrender to Nazi Germany. [6]

Consequently, Norsk Hydro's facilities were the target of several commando and air raids and a sabotage raid which eventually resulted in the plant's destruction and later reconstruction.

First metal production

The first steps towards light metal production came in 1940 when Hydro started construction of a magnesium carbonate plant at Herøya, but the German invasion of Norway stopped the plans.

In 1941 the Oslo Consortium (Norwegian: Oslo-konsortiet) invested money equivalent to year 2014 Norwegian kroner 172 million. [7] (The consortium included Thomas Fearnley, Orkla, Fred Olsen, Storebrand, Jens P. Heyerdahl, Klaveness & Co, Christopher Kahrs Kielland. [7] ) Collaboration with the Nazi-German regime, did not result in any company employees being convicted (for collaboration) after the war. [7]

During the Second World War Norsk Hydro collaborated with IG Farben and Nordische Aluminium Aktiengesellschaft (Nordag) in building new aluminium and magnesium plants in support of the German war effort. The construction was however ended on July 24, 1943 when an allied bombardment completely destroyed the facilities, killing 55 construction workers. As Germany's defeat became more likely, Norsk Hydro started to tone down its collaborative relations with the occupier.

In 1946 the Årdal aluminium plant was opened, operated by the state owned company Årdal og Sunndal Verk. In a merger Hydro acquired this company in 1986, in essence establishing the light metal division Hydro Aluminium.

Since 1919 there had first been zinc, then aluminium production at Glomfjord in Northern Norway. Hydro bought the power plant in 1947 and started ammonia production there instead. In the 1950s Hydro opened a new magnesium plant in Herøya and in 1963 Hydro started in cooperation with Harvey Aluminum a plant at Karmøy to produce aluminium. The plant, called Alnor, was purchased in whole by Hydro in 1973.

In 2000, Hydro acquired Wells Aluminum, a network of aluminium extrusion plants in the United States. Two years later, the company acquired the leading German aluminium producer Vereinigte Aluminium Werke from the German utility company E.ON and the French building systems company Technal.

Hydro became a truly integrated aluminium company in 2011, when it acquired the aluminium assets owned by Vale in Brazil. This made Hydro a significant player in bauxite mining and alumina refining.

Into the petroleum age

In 1965, Hydro joined Elf Aquitaine and six other French companies to form Petronord to perform search for oil and gas in the North Sea. Hydro soon became a large company in the North Sea petroleum industry, and also became operator of a number of fields, the first being Oseberg.[ citation needed ]

In 1969, Hydro started its first international operations, with a 25% stake in a fertilizer plant in Qatar.[ citation needed ]

Hydro acquired in the late 1980s the Mobil service stations in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, changing their name to Hydro. In 1995 Hydro merged its gas stations in Norway and Denmark with the Texaco, creating the joint venture HydroTexaco. The service station chain was sold in 2006 to Reitangruppen. In 1999 Hydro acquired Norway's third largest petroleum company Saga Petroleum, which had major upstream operations primarily in Norway and the United Kingdom. The British operations were later sold.

Hydro's fertilizer business was spun off as a separately stock-listed company under the name of Yara International on March 26, 2004. Hydro distributed all its Yara shares to Hydro's shareholders and presently has no ownership in Yara.

In December 2006 Norsk Hydro revealed a proposal to merge their oil business with compatriate oil and gas company Statoil. [8] Under the rules of the EEA the proposal was approved by the European Union on May 3, 2007 [9] and by the Norwegian Parliament on June 8, 2007. [10] The merger was completed by 1 October 2007. Hydro's shareholders took 32.7% of the new company—StatoilHydro—shares. [9]



Hydro Aluminum plant in Commerce, Texas Commerce August 2015 81 (Hydro Aluminum).jpg
Hydro Aluminum plant in Commerce, Texas

Hydro is one of the largest aluminium companies worldwide. In Norway, Hydro has plants in Magnor, Rjukan, Raufoss, Vennesla, Karmøy, Høyanger, Årdal, Husnes, Sunndalsøra, and Holmestrand. Most of the employees in the company work in plants and offices located outside Norway, such as Germany and Brazil. Hydro has more employees in the United States than any other Norwegian company.

In 2010, Hydro and Qatar Petroleum inaugurated their 50-50 joint venture Qatalum, located in Qatar. It was the largest aluminium plant ever launched in one step. Its annual capacity in September 2011 was 585,000 metric tons of primary aluminium, [11] all to be shipped as value added aluminium casthouse products. A 1350 MW natural gas power plant was also built to ensure a stable supply of electricity. [12]

In 2010, Hydro acquired the Brazilian bauxite, alumina and aluminium production assets of Vale, an international mining and metals company.

In September 2013, Hydro combined its aluminium extrusion operations with that of Sapa, making Sapa a 50/50 joint venture between Hydro and the Norwegian company Orkla. Hydro then acquired Orkla's 50% ownership in Sapa in October 2017, taking over the company and turning it into a new business area within Hydro, called Extruded Solutions. The agreed enterprise value for 100% of Sapa was NOK 27 billion. [13]


Hydro is a major producer of hydroelectric power in Norway.

To secure electricity for its aluminium production Hydro has signed a power purchase agreement with the Fosen Vind wind farm, which is scheduled to be fully operational in 2020. Under this agreement Fosen Vind will deliver around 0.6 TWh in 2020, around 1.0 TWh annually from 2021–2035 and 0.7 TWh annually from 2036–2039, for a total of about 18 TWh over a 20-year period. [14]

Hydro Agri

Though Hydro started off as a fertilizer producer and agricultural products was for a long time one of the companies major ventures, the agricultural division was in 2004 demerged into the independent company Yara International, listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Environmental issues

In February 2018 Hydro was forced to cut aluminium production by 50% in its plant located in Pará, Brazil (operated by the joint venture Albras). This followed after allegations had surfaced, stating that untreated and contaminated water had been released to the environment, resulting in water pollution. A team of local researchers found a clandestine waste pipe and highly elevated levels of aluminum in its proximity. Other substances such as nitrate, sulphate, chloride and lead were also found at abnormally high concentrations. [15] Hydro has since claimed that while some unauthorized spills had happened, [16] their own and independent reports showed no environmental pollution of the river but only a small change in pH. [17]

Chief Executive Officers

Related Research Articles

Rjukan City in Austlandet, Norway

Rjukan is a town and the administrative centre of Tinn municipality in Telemark, Norway. It is situated in Vestfjorddalen, between Møsvatn and Lake Tinn, and got its name after Rjukan Falls west of the town. The Tinn municipality council granted township status for Rjukan in 1996. The town has 3,386 inhabitants.

Elkem is a company that produces silicones, silicon, alloys for the foundry industry, carbon and microsilica.

Yara International

Yara International ASA is a Norwegian chemical company. Its largest business area is the production of nitrogen fertilizer, however it also encompasses the production of nitrates, ammonia, urea and other nitrogen-based chemicals.


Vemork is the name of a hydroelectric power plant outside Rjukan in Tinn, Norway. The plant was built by Norsk Hydro and opened in 1911, its main purpose being to fix nitrogen for the production of fertilizer. At opening, it was the world's largest power plant with a capacity of 108 MW.

Sam Eyde Norwegian engineer and businessman

Samuel "Sam" Eyde was a Norwegian engineer and industrialist. He was the founder of both Norsk Hydro and Elkem.

Orkla ASA

Orkla ASA is a Norwegian conglomerate operating in the Nordic region, Eastern Europe, Asia and the US. At present, Orkla operates in the branded consumer goods, aluminium solutions and financial investment sectors. The company's strategic focus is on growth in its branded consumer goods operations. Orkla ASA is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and its head office is in Oslo, Norway. As of 31 December 2018, Orkla had 18,510 employees. The Group’s turnover in 2018 totalled NOK 40.8 billion.

Bratsberg Line

The Bratsberg Line is a 74-kilometre long (46 mi) railway line between Eidanger and Notodden in Vestfold og Telemark county, Norway. It opened in 1917, connecting the Tinnos Line, the Sørland Line and the Vestfold Line; allowing Norsk Hydro to transport fertilizer from their plant at Rjukan to the port in Skien. Since 1991 only passenger trains are operated, using Y1 stock by Norges Statsbaner (NSB).

Rjukan Line Railway line in Vestfjorddalen, Norway

The Rjukan Line, at first called the Vestfjorddal Line, was a 16-kilometre (10 mi) Norwegian railway line running through Vestfjorddalen between Mæl and Rjukan in Vestfold og Telemark county. The railway's main purpose was to transport chemicals from Norsk Hydro's plant at Rjukan to the port at Skien, in addition to passenger transport. At Mæl the wagons were shipped 30 kilometres (19 mi) on the Tinnsjø railway ferry to Tinnoset where they connected to the Tinnoset Line. The Rjukan Line and the ferries were operated by Norsk Transport, a subsidiary of Norsk Hydro.

Tinnoset Line

The Tinnoset Line was a 30-kilometer (19 mi) long Norwegian railway line that went from Tinnoset to Notodden in Vestfold og Telemark county. The railway was part of the transport chain used to transport fertilizer from Norsk Hydro's factory in Rjukan to the port in Skien. The railway opened in 1909 and was closed when the plant closed in 1991. The railway is sometimes mistakenly believed to be part of the Rjukan Line.

Tinnsjø railway ferry

Tinnsjø railway ferry was a Norwegian railway ferry service on Lake Tinn that connected the Rjukan Line and Tinnoset Line. The 30-kilometer (19 mi) long ferry trip made it possible for Norsk Hydro to transport its fertilizer from the plant at Rjukan to the port in Skien. The ferry services were operated by the companies subsidiary Norsk Transport from 1909 to 1991, when the plant closed.

SF <i>Hydro</i>

SF Hydro was a Norwegian steam powered railway ferry that operated in the first half of the 20th century on Lake Tinn in Telemark. It connected with the Rjukan Line and Tinnoset Line, at Mæl and Tinnoset, operating between 1914 and 1944. The combined track and ferry service was primarily used to transport raw materials and fertilizer from Norsk Hydro's factory at Rjukan to the port in Skien. It was the target of a Norwegian operation on 20 February 1944, when resistance fighters sank the ferry in the deepest part of Lake Tinn in order to prevent Nazi Germany from receiving heavy water.

Herøya peninsula of Norway

Herøya is a peninsula in the municipality of Porsgrunn, Norway. It is located between the fjords of Frierfjord to the west and Gunneklevfjord to the east, at the mouth of Telemarksvassdraget. The name stems from the Old Norse word "her-eyjar" meaning an island (øya) with a hord or army (her), thus "the crowded island".

Årdal og Sunndal Verk or ÅSV is a defunct Norwegian state owned company that operated the aluminum plants in Årdal, Sunndal, Høyanger and Holmestrand. The company was established to take advantage of the hydro-electric power plants in the respective villages to create aluminum plants. The company was founded in 1946 to continue the unfinished production of the Årdal plant started by the German occupational forces during World War II. In 1954 construction on the Sunndal plant started. The company was merged with Norsk Hydro in 1986 to create the light metal division Hydro Aluminium.

Hydro Oil & Gas

Hydro Oil & Gas is a defunct division of Norsk Hydro that operated within the oil and gas industry. On October 1, 2007 it merged with Statoil to form the new corporation StatoilHydro.

Hydro Extruded Solutions is a manufacturer of extruded aluminium profiles. Norsk Hydro announced in July 2017 that it would take full ownership of the 50/50 joint venture Sapa AS by buying the remaining 50 percent stake from conglomerate Orkla Group. The transaction was completed and Sapa was brought into Hydro ASA on October 2, 2017. According to Bloomberg, Sapa "falsified thousands of certifications for aluminum parts over 19 years for hundreds of customers, including NASA." In Extruded Solutions, Hydro has the largest global aluminium extrusion-based solutions operation in the world, counting 100 production sites in more than 40 countries, and has 22,400 employees. Hydro's head office is located in Oslo, Norway.

Norsk Hydro Rjukan

Norsk Hydro Rjukan is an industrial facility operated by Norsk Hydro at Rjukan in Tinn, Norway, from 1911 to 1991. The plant manufactured chemicals related to the production of fertilizer, initially potassium nitrate from arc-produced nitric acid and later ammonia, hydrogen, and heavy water. The location was chosen for its vicinity to hydroelectric power plants built in the Måna river.

Thorleif Enger is a Norwegian businessperson and was Chief Executive Officer of Yara International. Enger was educated at the University of Colorado where he earned his PhD in Structural Engineering. He worked for Royal Dutch Shell until 1973, after which he moved to Norway to work for Norsk Hydro. He was director of the Oseberg oil field 1982–86, and from then until 1996 was president of the exploration and production division. He was then executive vice president of Hydro Oil and Gas until 1999, when he became executive vice president of Hydro Agri, and when this division was demerged to create Yara in 2004 he became its CEO. He announced his retirement in September 2008. Enger has been president of the International Fertilizer Industry Association, and has been a chairman or non-executive director of several boards, including Telenor, Spring Energy, HitecVision, and Marine Harvest. In 2010, Kapital named him one of the top ten business leaders in Norway after World War II.

History of fertilizer

The history of fertilizer has largely shaped political, economic, and social circumstances in their traditional uses. Subsequently, there has been a radical reshaping of environmental conditions following the development of chemically synthesized fertilizers.

Rjukan–Notodden Industrial Heritage Site Norwegian industrial World Heritage Site

The Rjukan–Notodden Industrial Heritage Site is a World Heritage Site in Vestfold & Telemark county, Norway, created to protect the industrial landscape around Lake Heddalsvatnet and Vestfjorddalen valley. The landscape is centered on the plant built by the Norsk Hydro company to produce calcium nitrate fertilizer from atmospheric nitrogen using the Birkeland–Eyde process. The complex also includes hydroelectric power plants, railways, transmission lines, factories, and workers' accommodation and social institutions in the towns of Notodden and Rjukan.

Egil Olav Hogna is a Norwegian engineer and business executive. On 1 September 2015 he was appointed new CEO of Sapa Group.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "OTC Markets - Official site of OTCQX, OTCQB and Pink Markets". Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  2. "Annual Report 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  3. "Top Ten Alumina Companies in the World". Retrieved 2017-09-04.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-10-20. Retrieved 2018-05-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "Svein Richard Brandtzæg - Hydro Internet". 15 April 2008. Archived from the original on 15 April 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  6. 1 2 Rhodes, Richard (1986). The Making of the Atomic Bomb . Simon & Schuster. pp.  327-329.
  7. 1 2 3 Nazi-Tysklands venner – Mange prominente herrer tjente store penger på tysk samarbeid under krigen. Etterpå gikk de fri, mens «tyskertøsene» ble jaget. Archived 2014-10-06 at the Wayback Machine (Nazi Germany's friends – Many prominent gentlemen earned great sums through cooperation with Germans during the war. Afterwards they walked free, while the «tyskertøsene» became hunted)
  8. Hydro's oil and gas activities to merge with Statoil [ permanent dead link ], Norsk Hydro, published 2006-12-18, accessed 2007-06-20
  9. 1 2 EU regulators approve Statoil, Norsk Hydro merger, EU Business, published 2007-05-03, accessed 2007-06-20
  10. Norwegian Parliament Okays Statoil-Hydro Merger Archived 2007-11-22 at the Wayback Machine , Ocean-Resources, published 2007-06-11, accessed 2007-06-20
  11. "Qatalum at full production". 25 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  12. "Qatar Aluminium (Qatalum)". Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  13. "News". Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  14. "Norsk Hydro: Hydro signs new long-term power contract for Norwegian aluminium portfolio". 2016-02-23. Archived from the original on 2016-08-22. Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  15. Phillips, Dom (2018-03-16). "Pollution, illness, threats and murder: is this Amazon factory the link?". The Guardian . Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  16. "Norway's Hydro says Brazil plant made unauthorized spills". Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  17. "Norsk Hydro Internal Task Force – Executive summary" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.

Coordinates: 59°54′50.97″N10°39′2.42″E / 59.9141583°N 10.6506722°E / 59.9141583; 10.6506722