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Norsk Hydro ASA is a Norwegian aluminium and renewable energy company, headquartered in Oslo. Hydro is the fourth largest integrated aluminium company worldwide. It has operations in some 40 countries around the world and is active on all continents. The Norwegian state holds a 43.8 percent ownership interest in the company, which employs approximately 23,000 people.

The company had a significant presence in the oil and gas industry until October 2007, when these operations were merged with rival Statoil to form StatoilHydro (in 2009 changed to Statoil). Notodden remains home to the Hydrogen Technologies division, a world leader in alkaline electrolysis technology.

Hydro is the fourth largest integrated aluminium company world wide. In Norway Hydro has plants in Rjukan, Raufoss, Vennesla, Karmøy, Høyanger, Årdal, Sunndalsøra, Holmestrand and Magnor.

The corporation also has plants abroad. Qatalum was the largest aluminium plant ever launched in one step. Located in Qatar, the company is an equal 50-50 joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Hydro. Its annual capacity is 585,000 tonnes of primary aluminium, all to be shipped as value added aluminium casthouse products. A 1350 MW natural gas power plant has also been built to ensure a stable supply of electricity.

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, and consequently was the target of several commando and air raids and a sabotage raid which eventually resulted in the plant´s destruction and later reconstruction. (This story was portrayed in the Kirk Douglas movie The Heroes of Telemark.)

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.

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. 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.

More info about Hydro at Wikipedia.


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