Amid European despair for natural gas, Norway boosts production
Europe is turning away from Russian oil and gas, and demands for alternative sources reach an unprecedented high.
Norway from before meets more than 20 percent of EU demands. The country now becomes even more important for the continent’s energy security.
According to figures from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, gas production now increases significantly. In March, production reached 316,7 million standard cubic meters per day, which is 6,3 percent above the original plans. It is also almost six percent higher than in the same month of 2021.
Since the start of Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine, the Nordic country’s energy industry has taken extraordinary measures to meet demands. Equinor, the state oil and gas company, says adjusted production permits from the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy will allow it to increase gas exports from its Oseberg and Heidrun fields with 1,4 billion cubic meters for the calendar year 2022.
That will cover the needs of around 1,4 million European households during a year, the company informs.
“Our focus is to maintain safe and efficient operations on our facilities, remaining a reliable supplier of energy to the markets in Europe in a highly challenging situation. In close dialogue with the authorities and our partners we are now taking steps to maintain the high production level from the winter,” said Kjetil Hove, executive vice president, Exploration & Production Norway.
The European countries that until recently looked with scepticism at Norway’a high level of oil and gas dependence, and limited energy transformation, now soften their voices. The reduction of Russian oil and gas in the European market boosts demands for the Norwegian hydrocarbons.
Norway plans to open a significant number of new oil and gas fields over the next years and extraction will remain on a high level until at least 2030.
Natural gas prices are high and profits for the exporter huge. According to Statistics Norway, the value of the natural gas exported by Norway in March 2022 reached a record high 112,4 billion kroner (€11,7 billion), a 500 percent increase from the same month in 2021.
The Nordic country will now soon also be able to increase exports of LNG. More than 1,5 years after a fire broke out at Melkøya, the liquified natural gas plant in Hammerfest, repair works are about to be completed.
Equinor confirms that the plant is due to reopen on the 17th of May. The plant that is located on the coast of the Barents Sea, can produce up to 18,5 million cubic meters per day.
“Our most important focus and what we can contribute with is to ensure that we continue to operate platforms, onshore facilities and pipeline systems safely and with high regularity, so that we can maintain high exports from the shelf,” company media spokesperson Magnus Frantzen Eidsvold says to the Barents Observer.
In 2021, 43.5 percent of the EU’s natural gas imports came from Russia, while Norway provided 23.6 percent, Algeria 12.6 percent and the US 6.6 percent.