For over 20 years the Talking Heads in the European gas industry have predicted huge drops in the supply of Norwegian gas to the continent. The reason provided was that Norway's gas reservoirs were becoming depleted. This past year the prediction has come true, but not for the depletion of reservoirs.
According to the Norwegian pipeline system's operator, Gassco, Norway’s natural gas exports to Europe via its offshore pipeline system fell by 6.3% to 107 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2019 from a year ago. At the same time, Norway’s main gas producer, Equinor, held back export volumes due to a fall in European gas prices, pressured by imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) transported by tankers.
Moreover, planned maintenance including at the giant Troll field and the Kollsnes processing plant through much of September took up to 150 million cu m/d out, while additional commercial turndown at Troll was estimated by Platts at some 40 million cu m/d.
Other key fields on the NCS including Visund, Oseberg, Sleipner, Kvitebjorn, Gina Krog, Ormen Lange and Aasta Hansteen were also shut in for planned annual maintenance through the month, while unplanned outages also hit the Gullfaks and Asgard fields.
The low volume of Norwegian gas may continue indefinitely, as producers believe that prices will rise next summer and that production should be deferred until this happens.