Baltic Pipe won't increase Norway's gas exports in maxed out system, PM says



By Stine Jacobsen

COPENHAGEN, March 9 (Reuters) - Norway's gas pipelines to Europe are operating at full capacity, and the addition of a new pipe to Poland later this year will not automatically lead to an increase in exports, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said on Wednesday.

"The Norwegian companies operating the pipelines are doing their utmost to deliver at maximum capacity. I can confirm that to my European colleagues," Stoere told Reuters during a visit to Copenhagen.

Norway in 2021 exported 113 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas via pipelines to the EU, and official Norwegian projections show a slight increase to 115 bcm is expected this year.

"The information I get from the companies operating is that they are delivering at maximum capacity," Stoere said.

Baltic Pipe, which is under construction from Norway via Denmark to Poland is expected to be ready for gas shipments in October or November this year, but must compete with Germany, Britain and others for Norwegian gas.

With a capacity of 10 bcm per year, equivalent to half of Poland's annual consumption, the pipe will help the country reduce its dependence on Russian gas as Europe seeks to alter its energy supply following the invasion of Ukraine.

"Baltic Pipe means that the grid spread of Norwegian gas in Europe will expand but it will not automatically expand the capacity," Stoere said.

State-controlled energy firm Equinor EQNR.OL said in January it plans to restart its 5 bcm Hammerfest liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in mid-May, after extensive repairs following a fire in 2020.

LNG, which is transported by ship, does not rely on pipelines.
Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, editing by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche

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