Environmental Organizations: EU Doesn’t Need More Norwegian Gas

Norwegian news in english: Norway doesn’t need to search for more gas to supply the EU, according to environmental organizations. Already by 2035, supply will exceed demand, according to a new report. The organizations Zero Carbon Analytics, the World Wildlife Fund WWF, Greenpeace, Oil Change International, and Transport & Environment are behind the report «On Thin Ice,» which was […]

Norway doesn’t need to search for more gas to supply the EU, according to environmental organizations. Already by 2035, supply will exceed demand, according to a new report. The organizations Zero Carbon Analytics, the World Wildlife Fund WWF, Greenpeace, Oil Change International, and Transport & Environment are behind the report «On Thin Ice,» which was presented on Wednesday at a meeting in the EU Parliament.

According to the report, the EU’s gas needs will fall by 30–32 percent by 2030.

If the EU is to meet its new climate goals with a 90 percent reduction in emissions by 2040, the supply of gas will exceed demand already by 2035.

«Dear Norway, what is wrong with you?» Senior analyst Murray Worthy from Zero Carbon Analytics emphasizes that the EU’s phasing out of Russian oil and gas has prompted European producers to rush to expand production. «Our analysis shows that there is no reason for this. The EU is on a steady course towards zero emissions and doesn’t need any new production,» he says.

The report was presented on Wednesday to a fairly crowded room in the EU Parliament.

«It’s quite incredible that Norway now has 141 new exploration projects. It’s going in the wrong direction,» said Finnish EU Parliament member Sirpa Pietkäinen from the conservative EPP party.

«Dear Norway, what is wrong with you? You are drilling for exploration and are going to dig for seabed minerals – and even in the Arctic!» she says.

«Good dialogue» Michael Baldwin, who heads the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, equivalent to a Norwegian ministry, however, does not endorse the idea that Norway should stop exploration activities. He points out that it was the EU that asked Norway to increase gas production after Russian gas was abruptly cut off following the Ukraine invasion in 2022.

«We will need gas in our pipes until 2049,» says Baldwin, who also highlights that Norwegian gas has lower emissions than much other gas on the market.

«We have a good energy dialogue with Norway,» says Baldwin.

Equinor dismisses Equinor’s representative in Brussels, Olav Syversen, on the other hand, dismisses the claims from environmental organizations that Norway is pursuing a tone-deaf gas policy. To meet EU’s future demand, it is necessary to open new fields, he pointed out at the meeting in the EU Parliament.

«And if Europe doesn’t buy our gas, there are others in the world who will. This is not addressed in the report,» says Syversen.

Economic risk Today, 95 percent of all gas produced on the Norwegian continental shelf goes to the EU and the UK. In the report, data from various sources, including the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Rystad Energy, are compiled and analyzed against three different possible scenarios in the EU.

«The report clearly shows that the EU’s decision to phase out fossil fuels from Russia is no excuse for Norway to search for more oil and gas,» says Danish EU Parliament member Niels Fuglesang from the Social Democratic group S & D.

Linda Kalcher from the climate think tank Strategic Perspectives in Brussels points out that the declining gas demand in the EU is irreversible.

«Both consumers and businesses are choosing green technologies since they have now become cheaper. Investing in more drilling could involve a high economic risk,» she says.

Demand for gas in the EU is now at its lowest in ten years, according to new figures from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

EU produces little itself State Secretary Elisabeth Sæther (Labour Party) in the Ministry of Energy says that EU countries have very little domestic gas production. They are therefore entirely dependent on imports, also in the future. «Norwegian gas is competitive in the market, and the ministry does not see Norwegian gas exports being limited by the market either in the short or long term,» says Sæther.

If no new discoveries are made on the Norwegian continental shelf, production will decline from 2030, according to her.

Pointing to the EU On its part, the government often points to the EU when arguing for granting new exploration permits. In January, 62 new extraction licenses were awarded – 29 in the North Sea, 25 in the Norwegian Sea, and eight in the Barents Sea. On average, it takes 17 years from a discovery to the start of oil or gas production, according to the World Wildlife Fund WWF, as previously reported by NTB.

As previously reported, the EU has also put its foot down on long-term gas contracts from 2049.

«Out of sync with climate goals» Environmental organizations react almost uniformly to the report. «The decline is happening faster than the government realizes,» says WWF leader Karoline Andaur.

«This is another piece of evidence that Norwegian petroleum policy is out of sync with the climate goal,» says campaign leader Silje Lundberg of the organization Oil Change International.

«The Norwegian authorities must open their eyes,» she says.

(©NTB)