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European gas market supported by Norway

Norwegian energy company Equinor submits plans for further development of the Troll oil and gas field, extending its life to 2060.

By Daniel J. Graeber
European gas market supported by Norway
Equinor submits plans for further development of the supergiant Troll field to the Norwegian Ministry of Energy. Photo courtesy of Equinor.

July 3 (UPI) -- European energy security is enhanced now that the Norwegian government is vetting plans to enhance the Troll oil and gas field, Equinor stated Tuesday.

Norway is one of the top oil and gas exporters to the European market, apart from Russia. Drawing electricity from renewable resources, Norway designates nearly all of its oil and gas production to the regional market.

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Norwegian energy company Equinor said Tuesday it submitted a $960 million plan to the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy to extend the life of the Troll field to around 2060. Realizing 2.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent with the third phase of field development, Margareth Øvrum at Equinor said the new phase is a boost for European energy security.

"The plan for development and operation for the next phase of the Troll development submitted today is highly important both to the future value creation for Norwegian society, but also to ensuring future gas deliveries to Europe," the executive vice president for technology, projects and drilling said in a statement.

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Equinor's announcement came one day after British supermajor BP announced the start up of the second phase of its giant Shah Daniz gas field off the coast of Azerbaijan. Through a network of pipelines dubbed the Southern Gas Corridor, Shah Deniz 2 will deliver gas deep into southern Europe.

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Most of the Russian gas sent to the European market runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine, where geopolitical concerns create risk. Russia aims to ease those concerns by doubling its Nord Stream network through the Baltic Sea, though Western leaders are wary of the business conduct of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom.

Equinor estimates the extra product from the Troll field could meet the natural gas needs of about 50 million average European households for around 30 years. The annual export volume from Troll is about the equivalent of 8 percent of total European demand.

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For Equinor, the company said the third phase of development of the Troll field will break even so long as the price of oil is higher than $10 per barrel. The price for Brent, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was near $78 per barrel on Tuesday.

"This is probably one of the most profitable and robust projects in the company's history," Øvrum said.

There are three platforms positioned over the Troll field. Equinor said the size of the field makes it necessary to tap resources in phases.

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