Norway has become the main supplier of gas to Europe

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Source: iStock/Ryosha

Norway has taken the lead from Russia in supplying natural gas to Europe, Reuters has reported, as Moscow chokes off its deliveries and EU countries work on cutting Russian energy imports.

The Nordic country plans to keep its natural gas production at current high levels, its energy minister told Reuters on Tuesday, as Europe battles a power-generation crisis that could hobble its industries.

“I expect that we can maintain the production levels we are at now until 2030,” Norway’s energy minister Terje Aasland said.

Official forecasts put Norway on track to lift its production of natural gas by 8% this year, compared with 2021 — and potentially beating a five-year-old record.

It has overtaken Russia after Moscow cut back its gas exports to hit back against western sanctions. The EU agreed in May to impose an embargo on seaborne Russian oil, but is yet to ban or restrict gas imports.

Even so, Russia has stoked the continent’s energy crisis by restricting gas flows. On Friday, it said it will temporarily close its Nord Stream 1 pipeline in a surprise three-day shutdown next week, having already slashed its capacity to 20% in July.

Tightening supply has driven European natural gas prices to rise sharply, and benchmark Dutch TTF gas futures have jumped 220% since the start of June.

But while Norway intends to keep its gas output high, it has no plans to reduce its prices to make European energy more affordable, Aasland said.

“In principle, the market is predictable,” the minister said. “When there is scarcity, prices are high. That also contributes to increasing production and steers the gas to the markets that need it most.”