The European Union is reducing its dependence on Russian natural gas and has made some progress. Norway has displaced Russia as the top supplier of NatGas to the EU as energy supply chains are rejiggered, reported Reuters, as Moscow reduces flows to EU countries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. According to government data in May, Norway ramped up NatGas production by at least 8% versus last year. This means the Scandinavian country could produce upwards of 122 billion cubic meters (bcm) of NatGas this year.
Refinitiv Eikon data show Norway is now the largest supplier of NatGas to Europe, surpassing Russia, which has slashed Nord Stream capacity to just 20%. By Wednesday, the pipeline will undergo a surprise three-day shutdown for 'maintenance' work.
Norwegian petroleum & energy minister Terje Aasland expects production levels can be sustained through the decade as new projects are coming online. This is undoubtedly a relief for the energy-stricken continent.
"I expect that we can maintain the production levels we are at now until 2030.
"We see that there are projects and also plans for development and operation coming now that can help maintain the high gas volumes going forward," Terje Aasland told Reuters in an interview.
The energy minister said diversification of EU's Natgas supplies away from Russia is critical. He said, "this is an important message to get from the EU."
Increasing flows from Norway also come as European Natas prices have tripled and repeatedly hit new records this summer. Though prices plunged on Monday from all-time highs reached last week following news Germany was ahead of schedule in filling up storage facilities ahead of winter.
"In principle, the market is predictable. When there is scarcity, prices are high. That also contributes to increasing production and steers the gas to the markets that need it most," Aasland said.
Despite Norway's largest oil and gas producer, the majority state-owned Equinor, boosting renewable energy and low-carbon technologies investments, it will also increase hydrocarbon exploration projects to meet EU demand.
Europe's ability to unlock partial energy independence could be through Norway, as the oil-rich nation is now the largest supplier of NatGas to the continent and could be on track to sustain high production levels through at least 2030.
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