Norway has the resources needed to remain a major, reliable and long-term supplier of gas to Europe for many decades to come. But the industry needs clear signals from the market to choose a pipeline connection to Europe, writes Tord Lien.
By the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tord Lien.
Norwegian gas accounts for about a quarter of the gas consumption in the EU. New projections show that Norway will be able to supply flexible and reliable gas for many decades, gas that offers an opportunity for affordable and efficient emission cuts in Europe. However, clear market signals from the EU are important when future gas export solutions from our High North shall be decided.
Norway has a track record of being a reliable supplier of gas to Europe. Our gas system is robust and efficient. Norwegian gas is timely delivered to the buyers, thereby safeguarding security of supply. In a European security of supply perspective, Norwegian gas is as trustworthy as gas from EU-member states. We have resources to stabilise our export to Europe at a high level in the coming decades.
Today, almost all of the Norwegian gas is exported to the European market. During the past 25 years, Norwegian gas exports have quadrupled. And much more is to come. Our gas exports are expected to stabilise at a high level over the coming decades. After more than 40 years of production, only one-third of the estimated, recoverable Norwegian gas reserves have been produced and sold. Norway is therefore well-positioned to remain a major exporter of gas well into the future. Our projection shows that another third of our resources, 2 000 billion Sm3 gas, will be produced and sold during the next 20 years.
The remaining third will be available for production after 2035. There could yet be far more – particularly in the north. Future exploration will give us the answer.
A significant part of Norway’s future gas export will be from our High North. This year, our pipeline system to Europe will be extended beyond the Arctic Circle. Further north, the Barents Sea has been explored in a safe and environmentally-sound manner for 35 years.
In a few years time, we expect to expand our gas export capacity out of the Barents Sea. Currently, we have our only ongoing LNG-export (Liquefied Natural Gas) from this area. The industry needs clear signals from the European market to choose a pipeline connection to Europe over additional market flexible capacity for LNG, which can be sold on a global market.
In meetings with my European colleagues, I always emphasise that the important role of gas in Europe’s energy supply over the next few decades must be put on the agenda. Without clear signals from buyers, it may become difficult for them to access the gas they want. Security of supply and security of demand are two sides of the same coin. It is my understanding that the role of gas in future European energy mix has gained traction among policy-makers. One example is the initiative from the European Commission to present a gas package next spring that comprises security of gas supply and an LNG strategy. This has also been underlined by the UK government recently.
As the UK government also argues, gas can also play an important role in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. Gas is much cleaner than coal. It is also reliable, flexible and well-suited for use alongside intermittent renewables such as solar and wind. I am convinced that gas is part of the solution in order for Europe to reach its climate goals in an expedient and affordable manner.
Norway has the resources needed to remain a major, reliable and long-term supplier of gas to Europe for many decades to come. For Europe, this will mean yet more decades of reliable gas supplies. However, this requires clear market signals. With the right resources, determination and competence on our side, the groundwork is in place to further develop these activities and for Norwegian gas to be a partner for the future.