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Europe's Largest Gas Producer Is Set To Nationalize Its Gas Pipelines

Norway will nationalize all of its natural gas pipelines within the next five years, the country’s oil and energy ministry said on Friday.

The nationalization plan would provide Norway with greater control over its critical infrastructure. Standing in the way of an immediate nationalization are existing concessions, which aren’t due to expire until 2028. After that, Norway will be able to move forward with its plan.

Norway became Germany’s single-largest natural gas supplier last year, overtaking Russia, with Germany’s gas imports dropping by 12.3%. Norway provided Germany—Europe’s largest economy—with 33% of all of the gas it imported in 2022, while Russia’s share of the German gas market fell to 22% last year, the Germany Federal Network Agency Bundesnetzagentur said in early January.

Also in January, Norway disclosed plans to pump its current high volumes of natural gas for at least another five years—through 2028—as operators pledged $30.3 billion to develop new fields and to extend the lifetimes of currently producing fields.

Norway’s gas production was 9 billion standard cubic meters higher in 2022 than in 2021, with gas now accounting for more than half of production from the shelf. “Gas production is projected to remain at around 2022 levels for the next four to five years,” the directorate said in January.

Norway’s oil and gas ministry said on Friday that it was notifying licensees to let them know that the country wants to “make use of the right of repatriation at the end of the license period,” adding that it “wants complete state ownership of the central parts of the Norwegian gas transport system.”

Norway also owns the country’s largest bank, telecom operator Telenor, and oil giant Equinor, Reuters noted on Friday.

Norway’s gas pipeline network is currently owned by Gassled through a decades-long partnership by offshore oil and gas producers in the area.

One of Gassled’s co-owners told Reuters on Friday that it was surprised by Norway’s move to nationalize the pipeline network.

Norway already holds a 46.7% interest in Gassled through its state-run Petoro and Equinor—both of which hold stakes in Gassled.

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By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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