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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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ENERGY

Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

Due to soaring prices, the Norwegian government is mulling over several solutions, including a potential price cap for electricity and limiting energy exports abroad. 

Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

High energy exports in the last 12 months, low filling levels in Norwegian reservoirs and an uncertain energy situation around Europe have led to soaring electricity prices in southern Norway. 

Last year the government introduced a scheme whereby it covers 80 percent of consumers’ energy bills where the price rose above 70 øre/kWh. The portion of the bill under 70 øre is paid in full by households. The portion the government covers will increase to 90 percent in October. 

Critics have argued that the current scheme still leaves households struggling with their bills. As a result, Norway’s government has said it is mulling its options to curb energy bills.

Norway primarily depends on hydroelectric dams to help it meet its energy needs. Still, reservoirs in southern Norway have been at the lowest level for ten years, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

Low reservoir filling over the past year has conceded with record exports with higher prices on the continent, making sending power abroad an enticing proposition.

Recently, exports have fallen significantly, and the government is considering introducing a limit to reduce the possibility of energy rationing being introduced this winter. 

“Restrictions on the export of electricity to Europe may be one of the measures that is needed,” Elisabeth Sæther, state secretary at the Ministry of Oil and Energy, told NRK. 

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre ruled out completely shutting off exports to the continent. 

“It is a dangerous thought and will not serve us well. It could give us more expensive power and lack of power in given situations. We will hardly be able to import power when we need it without contributing to other countries when they need it. There is a reciprocity in this,” he told the newspaper Aftenposten earlier in the week. 

Sæther also told NRK that the government was weighing up putting a maximum price on energy but warned that it could have unforeseen consequences. 

“We are afraid that a maximum price means that more water is drawn into the reservoirs, which we need for the winter. It is a serious situation. We must prevent ourselves from getting into a situation where we lack enough power this winter,” she told the broadcaster. 

At the end of May, the state-owned Statnett announced that the supply situation in Norway might be under strain – in some scenarios – all the way up to and through the winter, especially if Southern Norway experiences drier than usual weather in the second part of the year. 

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