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ENERGY

Norwegian oil company doubles revenue as gas prices surge  

Norwegian energy giant Equinor said Wednesday that soaring gas prices helped it more than double its revenue in the third quarter. 

A file photo showing a North Sea oil rig. Norway's state-owned oil company Equinor netted a pre-tax operating result of 9.77 billion dollars for the third quarter of 2021.
A file photo showing a North Sea oil rig. Norway's state-owned oil company Equinor netted a pre-tax operating result of 9.77 billion dollars for the third quarter of 2021. Photo: ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

Equinor, which is 67 percent owned by the Norwegian state, said that its net profit rose to $1.4 billion between July to September this year, compared to a loss during the same period in 2020, partly due to asset write-downs.

But the profit figure was well below analyst expectations of $2 billion.

However, total revenue hit $23 billion, narrowly beating expectations of $22 billion, according to analysts surveyed by Factset.

The number was also more than twice the revenue of the same period last year, when many businesses were devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Equinor’s preferred indicator — net operating profit, which excludes some one-off items, came in well above expectations at $9.8 billion.

Energy prices have surged recently as the global economy recovers from the pandemic, and the northern hemisphere heads towards winter.

Chief executive Anders Opedal said that “the global economy is in recovery, but we are still prepared for volatility related to the impact of the pandemic”.

“The current unprecedented level and volatility in European gas prices underlines the uncertainty in the market,” he said in the statement.

“Equinor has an important role as a reliable energy provider to Europe and we have taken steps to increase our gas exports to respond to the high demand.”

Equinor’s average price of oil per barrel reached $69.2 in the third quarter — up from $38.3 a year earlier.

Still largely oil-based, the company said in June it plans to invest $23 billion in renewable energy by 2026.

READ ALSO: Norway oil giant Equinor aims to be carbon neutral by 2050

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ENERGY

Sweden’s parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption

Sweden's Social Democrat caretaker government has agreed with the incoming Moderates on a goal of cutting peak power consumption by 5 percent as part of an EU scheme.

Sweden's parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption

Now the election is over, both parties seem willing to consider ways to encourage citizens to reduce power use, an obvious measure to reduce winter power prices that was conspicuously absent from the campaign. 

At the same time, the Moderates are downplaying their election campaign pledge to bring in “high-cost protection” to reimburse citizens for much of the impact of high power costs by the start of November. 

At a meeting of the parliament’s Committee on Industry and Trade, the two parties agreed that both the caretaker Social Democrat government and the incoming Moderate-led government should take action to cut power consumption by between 5 percent and 10 percent. 

“If we succeed in carrying this out on a coordinated EU level, we will be on the way to at the very least halving electricity prices,” Energy minister Khashayar Farmanbar told Sweden’s TT newswire. 

“We stand behind the ambition to reduce consumption,” agreed Carl-Oskar Bohlin, the Moderate Party’s power spokesperson, after a meeting of the committee on Wednesday. 

But he said that meeting the goal would be very much dependent on outside factors, particularly how cold the winter is in Sweden. 

“Then there are questions of how that should happen practically in real terms,” he said. “In Sweden, electricity use is largely dependent on the outside temperature. If we have a mild winter, it will be extremely easy to hit the 5 percent target, if we have a really harsh winter, it might be impossible.”

The Moderates are agreed that the public sector should reduce “unnecessary power consumption”, but have yet to agree on measures that households should take, such as reducing indoor temperatures or turning off the lights. 

At the same time, Bohlin admitted on Wednesday that the high-cost protection that Ulf Kristersson pledged in the campaign by November 1st, may be delayed by the government negotiations. 

“We promised high-cost protection from November 1st, on the condition that a new government was in place rapidly,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. “The problem is that Svenska kraftnät [the company that owns and operates Sweden’s power grid], is working to another schedule, one given by the current government.” 

The outgoing Social Democrat government has given Svenska kraftnät until November 15th to propose a system for high-cost protection. The cash paid back to households and businesses would be taken from the bottle-neck income which the grid operator receives as a result of capacity shortages in the network. 

The outgoing Social Democrats have also changed their rhetoric since the end of the campaign .

On September 9th, two days before the election took place, the Social Democrat government framed a meeting of EU ministers on September 9th as a “breakthrough” in the EU negotiations. 

Farmanbar is now describing it as “a process”. 

“What we can promise right now is that we’re going to work as hard as we can to get a breakthrough,” he said. 

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