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Can Norway help Europe reduce reliance on Russian gas?

AFP
AFP - [email protected] • 16 Mar, 2022 Updated Wed 16 Mar 2022 14:29 CEST
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A file photo of a Norwegian gas platform in the North Sea. Photo: DANIEL SANNUM LAUTEN / AFP

Norway, Europe's second-biggest supplier of natural gas, on Wednesday announced steps to keep its gas production at maximum levels to help Europe reduce its dependency on Russian gas.

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The Norwegian Petroleum and Energy Ministry agreed to adjust the production licences of three offshore fields -- Oseberg, Troll and Heidrun -- so that they can prioritise gas production over oil.

The measures "will not increase the daily total Norwegian gas production significantly, but will contribute towards maintaining today's high export volumes of Norwegian gas", the ministry said.

Norway covers between 20 and 25 percent of the European Union's and Britain's gas needs, while Russia accounts for between 45 and 50 percent.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the EU has sought to reduce its Russian gas imports by two-thirds.

Norway's gas exports are however squeezed by production capacities, already churning at maximum levels, and the distribution system via pipelines. 

Norway's sole liquified natural gas (LNG) unit, which makes it possible to deliver gas by ship in liquid form, was damaged in a fire in September 2020.

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Located in Hammerfest in northern Norway, it will be back in service by mid-May, according to its operator, energy giant Equinor, making it possible to then increase export volumes.

According to Equinor, adjusting the production licences at the Oseberg field will make it possible to export an additional 1 billion cubic metres up to September 30th, when maintenance work is scheduled to be conducted.

The Heidrun field will meanwhile be able to increase its deliveries by 0.4 million cubic metres in the full year 2022.

Equinor said that "1.4 billion cubic metres of gas meets the gas demands of around 1.4 million European homes during a year".

The Troll field has meanwhile been authorised to increase its production by up to 1 billion cubic metres in the event of loss of production from other fields.

To take advantage of the record-breaking high gas prices lately, Equinor had already obtained an adjustment on the production permits for Oseberg and Troll last year.

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AFP 2022/03/16 14:29

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