Norway plans to nationalise its gas pipelines by 2028, at the time when many existing concessions are due to expire.
Norway’s oil and gas ministry said on Friday that it seeks to tighten control over key infrastructure. Following the imposition of Western sanctions after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Norway has become Europe’s major natural gas supplier.
Norway has not given reasons for nationalisation, Reuters reports. The gas pipeline network in the county is currently owned by Gassled, a network set up in 2003. The government already owns 46.7% of the company via state oil company Petoro; Equinor also owns an additional 5%.
Letters will be sent to licensees informing them of the changes. The ministry said that in some cases shareholders will be compensated.
Gassco, the technical operator of the network, will retain its position following the takeover. The Kaarstoe and Kollsnes processing plants and many of the pipelines connecting Norway to the EU and UK are also owned by Gassled.
Kurt Georgsen, CEO of Silex Gas, one of the pipeline’s co-owners, said he was “surprised” by the announcement. “Norwegian petroleum policy has had its foundation on combined ownership from private companies and the state and has worked well,” he said.
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Norwegian natural gas
Norway exported more than 120 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in 2022 via its pipelines. Around 116.6bcm of this went to the EU and the UK.
The Norwegian state has substantial holdings in oil and gas fields through the State’s Direct Financial Interest, which is manged by Petoro, while all cash flow is directed to the government’s Petroleum Fund.
In 2022, the Norwegian state earnt $50.2bn (NKr528bn) from direct oil and gas licences via Petoro, more than five-times the amount earnt in an average year. The company attributed increased demand to a reduction in the use of Russian gas in Europe.
Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store previously warned against “energy nationalism” in Europe, stating that it is important for countries to collaborate on energy in the wake of the ongoing energy crisis to ensure that certain countries are not left behind.