The European energy crisis is a two-faced animal: sweat and tears in the EU, and juicy profits in Norway. The Scandinavian country, which became the bloc's leading supplier of natural gas in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, pocketed 528 billion kronor (46.37 billion euros) last year for its direct participation in oil and gas wells, according to Petoro, the public firm that manages 36 of these fields, on Tuesday. This figure is five times more than Oslo used to get in a "normal" financial year - according to the company's own words - and 54% higher than 2021, which was already a record.
Gas production - the fuel in which Norway is most abundant and the one it sells most to its southern neighbors - grew by only 7%, so most of the increase in revenues has to do with the unprecedented rise in prices. Between January and August, the price of natural gas rose tenfold on the TTF market, the reference market in the EU-27.
"With these historically high values, Petoro has recorded a cash flow five times higher than in a normal year," acknowledges its executive administrator, Kristin Fejerskov Kragseth, in the agency's annual report, peppered with several mentions of the drama of the war and its consequences. The money raised in this way, she emphasizes, will be transferred "in its entirety" to the Norwegian state: "These windfall profits will benefit the entire community.
The long-term efforts on the Norwegian [gas] platform have enabled us to ensure that we can continue to bring large volumes of gas to Europe," Kragseth adds. "This increase has only been possible because of increased production in multiple fields." The largest of these, Troll (in the North Sea), contains 60% of Norway's continental shelf gas reserves and has an expected life horizon to 2070. Total Norwegian gas production will remain at the 2022 level for the next "four to five years," according to Petoro's chief.
Read moreNorway rubs its hands with the energy crisis: "There are times when it's no fun to make money, and this is one of them. "
The figures released Tuesday by the manager of the country's most fossil wells is just one more to back up the Scandinavian nation's boom on the back of gas and crude. At the end of January, the government estimated at 884 billion kronor (77.67 billion euros) the tax revenues reaped in 2022 from the exploitation of its energy resources, almost three times more than a year earlier and 20% more than initially forecast. That amount, which emanates directly from the income statement of oil and gas companies, does not include direct profits from the exploitation of wells.
The main explanation is the high price of gas," said Nina Schanke Funnemark, director general of the Norwegian Tax Administration, at the time
adding to these sums the substantial dividends that Oslo will pocket from the dividends distributed by Equinor, the country's largest energy company, in which public capital accounts for around 67%. Norway - whose sovereign wealth fund already manages more than a trillion euros in assets (shares, bonds, buildings, etc.) - already supplies almost a third of the natural gas consumed by the EU following the interruption of the Russian flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. But its coffers are also grateful.
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