Foreign capital is largely centered in Norway's electrochemical and electrometallurgical industries, the primary iron and metal industry, and mining. The discovery of oil and natural gas in the North Sea area spurred foreign investments. The Ekofisk oil field was discovered in 1969 by an American Phillips Petroleum Co. consortium, including Petrofina of Belgium, ENI of Italy, and Norway's Petronord. A joint Norwegian-Phillips group company, Norpiepe, was formed in 1973 to construct the pipelines and to operate them for 30 years. Another US company, McDermott International, was awarded a $150-million contract in 1982 to lay pipe from the Statfjord gas field in the North Sea to the Norwegian mainland. In January 1995, 11 international oil and gas companies announced plans for a $1.2–$1.35 billion gas pipeline from Norway's North Sea production area to the European continent. In October of the same year, Fokus, Norway's third-largest commercial bank, fell under foreign control as foreign investors captured more than half the shares for sale in the bank's privatization.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in Norway totaled about $21.4 billion in 1997. FDI inflow was nearly $3 billion in 1997 and more than $3.3 billion in 1998. Annual FDI inflow peaked in 1999 and 2000, at $6.7 billion and $6.3 billion, respectively, but in the global economic slowdown of 2001 fell to $2.8 billion. In 2002, FDI inflows increased to $3.4 billion. In terms of its attractiveness for foreign investment, Norway was ranked fourth in the world on UNCTAD's list of 140 countries for the period 1998 to 2000, up from fifth place for 1988 to 1990. Total FDI stock in Norway as of 2001 was $40.2 billion, equivalent to 18.7% of GDP. Norway's share in world FDI flows has been approximately equal to its share of world GDP.
Outward FDI flows from Norway averaged $5.3 billion for the four years 1999 to 2002. More than 2,000 enterprises have foreign investors holding at least 20% of the capital. Total outward FDI stock held by Norwegians totaled $40.7 billion as of 2001.