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ENERGY

Norway to shut its last Arctic coal mine in 2023

Norway will in 2023 shut its last coal mine in Svalbard, its operator said Thursday, drawing to a close more than a century of prospecting by Oslo in this Arctic archipelago.

An old dilapidated factory in Svalbard, where Norway will end coal mining operations in 2023.
An old dilapidated factory in Svalbard, where Norway will end coal mining operations in 2023. Photo by Vince Gx on Unsplash

Mine 7 will close in September 2023 after authorities in Longyearbyen, the archipelago’s capital, terminated a contract to supply the local power plant, the Store Norske mining company announced.

The closure won’t spell the end of all mining in this snow-drenched place north of the Arctic Circle, as a Russian company continues to extract coal there, keeping a strategic presence in the Arctic.

“The purpose of Mine 7 is to supply coal to the power plant in Longyearbyen. Now that the coal supply agreement has been terminated, there is no longer any reason to operate the mine,” Store Norske’s director Jan Morten Ertsaas said in a statement.

“We have been producing coal in Svalbard for more than 100 years, so it is kind of special to bring the coal era to a close today,” he added.

Longyearbyen was founded in 1906 by John Munroe Longyear, an American businessman, to mine coal.

In 1920, Norway’s sovereignty over the archipelago was recognised in a treaty that gave other signatory states, including the Soviet Union at the time, permission to engage in economic activities there as well, on an equal footing.

Longyearbyen’s power plant will be fuelled by diesel after the end of coalsupply, until a solution involving renewable energy is set up.

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ENERGY

Norwegian oil company doubles revenue as gas prices surge  

Norwegian energy giant Equinor said Wednesday that soaring gas prices helped it more than double its revenue in the third quarter. 

A file photo showing a North Sea oil rig. Norway's state-owned oil company Equinor netted a pre-tax operating result of 9.77 billion dollars for the third quarter of 2021.
A file photo showing a North Sea oil rig. Norway's state-owned oil company Equinor netted a pre-tax operating result of 9.77 billion dollars for the third quarter of 2021. Photo: ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

Equinor, which is 67 percent owned by the Norwegian state, said that its net profit rose to $1.4 billion between July to September this year, compared to a loss during the same period in 2020, partly due to asset write-downs.

But the profit figure was well below analyst expectations of $2 billion.

However, total revenue hit $23 billion, narrowly beating expectations of $22 billion, according to analysts surveyed by Factset.

The number was also more than twice the revenue of the same period last year, when many businesses were devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Equinor’s preferred indicator — net operating profit, which excludes some one-off items, came in well above expectations at $9.8 billion.

Energy prices have surged recently as the global economy recovers from the pandemic, and the northern hemisphere heads towards winter.

Chief executive Anders Opedal said that “the global economy is in recovery, but we are still prepared for volatility related to the impact of the pandemic”.

“The current unprecedented level and volatility in European gas prices underlines the uncertainty in the market,” he said in the statement.

“Equinor has an important role as a reliable energy provider to Europe and we have taken steps to increase our gas exports to respond to the high demand.”

Equinor’s average price of oil per barrel reached $69.2 in the third quarter — up from $38.3 a year earlier.

Still largely oil-based, the company said in June it plans to invest $23 billion in renewable energy by 2026.

READ ALSO: Norway oil giant Equinor aims to be carbon neutral by 2050

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