Norwegian energy company Equinor has announced its 2018 sales of natural gas totalled $26bn, an increase of 29% from 2017.

Equinor sold a total of 100 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas worldwide in 2018. The company is the second-largest gas supplier to Europe, as well as the largest producer of natural gas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).

The company markets and sells the gas volumes of the Norwegian state’s direct financial interests (SDFI) in addition to its own gas volumes. Norway provides about 25% of Europe’s total gas.

Equinor cited “a well-developed and efficient gas infrastructure and proximity to the market” as the main reasons for Norway’s success in the gas market, with the UK and Germany being the largest export markets.

Equinor’s executive vice president for marketing, midstream and processing Irene Rummelhoff said: “Global energy markets are changing. The world needs more energy, but lower emissions.

“Natural gas is well positioned to provide secure, competitive and sustainable energy to consumers and industry: Reducing CO2 emissions by 50% when replacing coal, providing needed back-up to renewables and offering a long-term solution for the low carbon future if converted to hydrogen.”

Equinor expects strong market opportunities for gas as more countries prepare to transition to renewable forms of energy, predicting global demand to grow by around 10% towards 2030.

Rummelhoff added: “The UK has successfully reduced its CO2 emissions by more than one third – to levels since the late 19th century – using gas, renewables and other measures.

“We are also encouraged by the policy signals from Germany on the role of gas in phasing out coal and look forward to continue working with our partners across Europe to realise the full potential of the energy transition.”