Norway is swimming against the tide of European countries. While most are in favor of capping the price of gas imports to the European Union, Oslo took the opposite position.
“We agree that there will be a closer dialogue with the EU in the future about the various proposals that are on the table. We approach the discussions with an open mind but are skeptical of the maximum gas price,” declared the Norwegian Prime Minister on Monday, September 12.
Jonas Gahr Støre spoke in a statement after a telephone interview – the second in a few days – with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
Norway, which has largely benefited from rising prices, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has so far been indifferent to the question of a cap. Emphasizing the importance of price as a mechanism for adjusting supply and demand, Oslo passed the buck to the oil groups and recalled that European customers themselves had previously insisted on spot contracts (at variable prices) instead of in long-term contracts that provide more visibility. . “The highest price will not change the fundamental problem, that there is too little gas in Europe”, said Jonas Gahr Støre.
The shadow accused of “profiting from war”
As a result of the war in Ukraine, Norway has recently replaced Russia as the leading supplier of gas to Europe due to an 8% increase in its own deliveries and, above all, a fall in Russian deliveries.
Rising prices and increased production helped fill Norway’s state coffers. Oil and gas revenues will thus reach 1,500 billion crowns (150 billion euros) in 2022 – and 1,900 billion next year -, breaking the record set last year (830 billion), according to calculations at Nordea Markets bank.
“The most important contribution that Norway can make in the current situation is to maintain high gas production in the future,” hammered the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Aasland.
But criticism has arisen at home and abroad, with those who fear that the country will be seen as one “war profiteer”. “As the war and the ensuing power crisis continued, the money flowing north proved to be embarrassing,” judged last week the British weekly The Economist.
The Norwegian embassies in many European countries are now worried about the effects that this situation can have on the image of the Nordic kingdom, assured this Monday the Norwegian newspaper. Dagens Naeringsliv.
A general ceiling is discussed
According to Jonas Gahr Støre, the issue of a price cap was not discussed in his previous meeting with Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday September 7. The Europeans agreed to this possibility during an extraordinary council of energy ministers organized two days later.
Amid discussion of emergency measures to prevent rising gas and electricity bills, some ministers spoke about a price cap on gas imports to the EU. While the European Commission proposed capping the price of gas from Russia, many States such as Italy noted that it represents only 9% of European imports and recommended a complete cap on the price of gas purchased in the EU.
Not in favor of this idea that could push suppliers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to look elsewhere, the Commission should submit its draft legislative text this week that contains all the emergency energy measures.