Gas, of course

Bente Nyland, director general

The Aasta Hansteen gas field began production on 16 December as the first development in the northern Norwegian Sea. At the same time, the new Polarled pipeline began carrying natural gas to Nyhamna near Ålesund for export to European customers. All this opens new opportunities in the area around Aasta Hansteen and Polarled.

In recent years, Norway has exported some 120 billion standard cubic metres of gas worth about NOK 200 billion. Most energy forecasts show a growth in demand for gas, while declining domestic production in the EU could create an increased need for European gas imports. Were gas to replace coal in electricity generation, CO2 emissions could be halved.

In my view, this is not well communicated in Norway.

The NCS has produced more gas than oil since 2010, and that position is expected to persist.

Substantial resources, closeness to the market and an integrated and flexible transport system with low unit costs have made Norwegian gas competitive in the European market.

If the country is to maintain its gas exports from the mid-2020s, however, offshore exploration activities must be stepped up and more resources found in coming years.

Almost two-thirds of Norway’s undiscovered gas resources are expected to lie in the Barents Sea, which underlines the importance of this area for long-term gas exports from the NCS.

The key lies in the Barents Sea, and it is important that the companies explore for gas so that resources are found which can lay the basis for new infrastructure.

We are working with Gassco to identify requirements which will allow fields, discoveries and resources yet to be found to form the basis for more export capacity from these northern waters.

After two years with few exploration wells, their number is fortunately back at more than 50 per year. We hope this is a sign that such drilling has returned a new and better track – for gas as well.


Bente Nyland
director general