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Norway’s Hydropower Reserves Hit Hard By Drought

While Europe scrambles to procure natural gas for winter power generation and heating, Western Europe’s biggest oil and gas producer, Norway, has a whole different power problem this summer—dry weather, which depletes water reservoirs for hydropower, which accounts for 90% of Norwegian power generation.

The remaining around 10% of the electricity supply in Norway comes from wind power.

Although Norway doesn’t use gas for power generation, the gas and energy crisis in Europe is felt there, too. Hydropower producers have been discouraged in recent weeks to tap more water for hydropower generation and save water for the winter. Operators were also asked not to export too much electricity to the rest of Europe as reservoirs are not as full as in previous years, and not to rely on imports from Europe, which is struggling with energy supply.

At the end of last week, Norway’s water reservoirs were 59.2 percent full, below the 20-year average, according to data from the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE).

In comparison, water reservoirs were 67.9 percent full at this time of the year, on average, for the years 2002 through 2021. Central Norway had its reservoirs 82.3 percent full, but southwestern Norway had the lowest water levels at 45.5 percent full at the end of last week.

Some Norwegian utilities, including top electricity producer Statkraft, have followed the plea from transmission system operator Statnet not to produce too much electricity now.

“We now produce considerably less than we would have without the risk of a scenario for a dry year and rationing on the continent,” Statkraft chief executive Christian Rynning-Tønnesen said in an e-mail to Reuters this week.

Meanwhile, Norway’s authorities approved on Monday applications from operators to boost production from several gas fields, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said, expecting record gas sales via pipelines to Europe this year. Norway’s decision to allow higher gas production and record gas exports comes as its partners, the EU and the UK, scramble for gas supply ahead of the winter, which could be one of rationing for some industries and even households if Russian pipeline gas supply to Europe stops.

By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com

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