Norway plans more gas exports to Europe

Dec 12, 2008 01:00 AM

Norway plans to increase exports of natural gas to Europe, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said. His pledge came as Russia threatened to scrap a pipeline to Germany if European squabbling continued to delay the controversial project.
"We are going to increase our exports of natural gas to Europe and you can count on Norway when it comes to energy supplies to Europe," he told after talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

The 27-nation block is seeking to reduce its reliance on Russian gas after pricing disputes between Russia and transit states disrupted supplies in recent years and Russia's invasion of Georgia in August stoked tensions. He said Norway had not yet decided on whether to explore for hydrocarbons in the Arctic and warned against growing military activity in the region.
"We will do whatever we can to avoid an arms race in the Arctic," he said. "Russia has increased military activity in the Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea, and that's an expression of a stronger economy and presence of Russia in many areas."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin threatened to scrap plans for the Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany if Europe kept delaying the bitterly disputed project.
Brussels has already identified the pipeline, a joint venture involving Russia's Gazprom, and Germany's E.ON and BASF, as a key project to ensure secure gas supplies for Europe. But it has been criticized in Poland, Lithuania and Estonia, which are angered at being bypassed, as well as in Sweden on environmental grounds.

Stoltenberg's promise to expand gas exports to the EU did not surpass existing forecasts by Norwegian energy authorities that they could rise to between 125 bn to 140 bn cm per year by 2020, up from around 100 bn cm today. He said there were no new plans for big gas pipelines to the EU, but he gave his backing to the planned Scanled project, which might one day carry Nordic gas as far east as Poland.
"We are in favour of that," he told. "The key issue is to find enough volumes to make it commercial."

Source / AFX News Limited
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