Norwegian PM open to EU gas agreement and price caps

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre said Wednesday that the country is open to discussing price caps and gas agreements with Europe.

Pictured is a file photo of Jonas Gahr Støre
Jonas Gahr Støre has said that the governemnt is potential cap on gas prices. Pictured: A file photo of Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre speaking to members of the media outside 10 Downing Street in central London. Photo by Daniel Leal/ AFP.

Norway would be open to the possibility of a long-term gas agreement and price cap with European partners to help ease the energy crisis, the Financial Times reports.

“I fully understand that Europe now has a profound debate about how energy markets work, how they can secure more affordable prices for citizens, families, industries, and how this shortfall of gas after Putin’s aggression can be handled,” Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre, told the newspaper on Wednesday.

“Norway is not closing doors to any such discussion,” he added.

However, Støre did say that the EU should be wary of implementing measures which could threaten the security of power supplies, according to the report in the Financial Times.

The country has worked to maximise gas production in light of the invasion of Ukraine earrlier this year. So far, the country has increased gas supplies to Europe by around 10 percent.

Norway was working to be recognised as a “predictable and long-term” partner, FT’s report said. Norway is currently Europe’s second-largest supplier of energy to Europe.

European Union energy ministers are due to meet on Friday to discuss the implementation of caps on Russian natural gas prices, according to a report by Reuters.

Price caps on gas are seen as a potential measure the EU could implement to try and curb soaring energy prices.
Støre told Norwegian newswire NTB on Wednesday that the country wouldn’t close the door to any proposals suggested by the EU.

“This work is now ongoing, and the concrete content of the proposals is not yet known. That is why I have said that at the present time, we cannot close the door to any of the solutions the EU is discussing until we see the whole and the concrete content of the proposals,” he said.

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Norway to offer record number of Arctic oil and gas exploration licences

Norway on Tuesday said it plans to offer a record number of gas and oil exploration blocks in the Arctic, with environmental NGOs condemning an "aggressive" promotion of fossil fuels.

Norway to offer record number of Arctic oil and gas exploration licences

The Scandinavian nation — Europe’s primary natural gas supplier and a major oil producer — proposed 92 exploration blocks, including an unprecedented 78 in the Barents Sea in the far north. The other 14 are in the Norwegian Sea near the Arctic Circle.

“New discoveries remain necessary to continue to develop the Norwegian plateau” and are important for Europe, Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said in a statement.

The announcement is part of the annual granting of oil licences in so-called “mature” zones that have already been widely explored. The centre-left government, lacking a parliamentary majority, reached an agreement with the Socialist Left party last year to forbid prospection in unexplored areas by 2025.

The government’s propositions sparked outrage among environmental organisations. Truls Gulowsen, head of the Norwegian branch of Friends of the Earth, condemned an “extremely aggressive” cycle of concessions presented as the United Nations and the International Energy Agency discourage further oil exploration to achieve climate goals.

The NGO said the proposal would violate the commitment not to explore virgin territory as some blocks were to be located far from existing infrastructure.

The right-wing opposition, a fervent defender of Norway’s oil sector, said the move was a “tactical game” by the government to give itself bargaining chips to use in future negotiations with the Socialist Left.

Oil industry body Offshore Norge welcomed the fact that “attractive areas” would be opened to prospection.

The proposals will go to a public consultation. Oil companies must submit their applications later this year and licences will be granted in January 2024.

The Barents Sea has long been seen as a productive area for the energy sector, but oil and gas extraction is so far only taking place at two sites in Norwegian waters.