Norway just officially overtook Russia as Western Europe’s top gas supplier — which suggests that the EU’s attempt to move away from Moscow gas is working, according Reuters.
During the first quarter of 2015, Norway exported 29.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) to Western Europe, according to figures from Norwegian state operator Gassco. Meanwhile, Russia sold 20.29 billion bcm, according to Gazprom figures.
The trend towards Norwegian gas began in the fourth quarter of 2014 when Europe bought 29.5 billion bcm and 19.8 billion bcm from Russia, according to numbers from the two state gas companies.
That being said, it’s important to note that exports to EU members in Eastern Europe are not included in this data.
The last time Norway (briefly) overtook Russia’s gas was in 2012.
The European Union has been trying to reduce its dependence on Russian gas in favor of Norwegian (and other) gas suppliers for some time now.
This has been due to several factors, including Russia’s tendency to use its arsenal of gas pipelines as tools of coercion, and, more recently, because of the conflict in Ukraine (the biggest transit route for Russian exports to the EU.)
Traditionally, Russia has provided one-third of the natural gas that European countries relied on both for heating their homes and running industries. And because Moscow played such a huge role in the gas market, it was able to command high prices.
“It is the power of colder weather that allows Russia, as the key supplier of energy to Europe, to apply leverage. That leverage can take the form of higher prices, restricted volumes, a combination of both, or negotiations that directly or indirectly affect these additional costs,” Cumberland Advisors Chair David Kotok wrote in August.
Meanwhile, Norway’s supply boost has been attributed in part to the end of the outage at Troll, which produces around 30% of the country’s gas. The company returned to full capacity in March 2014.
For 2014 as a whole, the European Commission said that Russia was still the main EU supplier, although its total share of imports fell to 42% from 43%, and in volume terms fell by more than 10%.
During the same period, Norway’s imports jumped from 34% to 38%.