Data provided by state firms show that Norway has overtaken Russia to become the top gas supplier for western Europe.
According to figures from Norwegian state operator Gassco, gas exported from Norway to eastern Europe increased to 29.2 billion cubic metres in the first quarter of 2015, surpassing the Russian state-owned energy firm Gazprom’s figure of 20.29 billion cubic metres exported from Russia.
Norway also surpassed Russia in the last three months of 2014, exporting 29.5 billion cubic metres ahead of Russia’s 19.8 billion cubic metres.
It is the first time since a brief spell in 2012 that Norwegian gas has overtaken Russian gas in the region, with a drop in oil prices allowing Norway to offer more flexible pricing on its supplies playing a role in the shift.
A boost to Norwegian gas production following the Troll gas field’s return to its full capacity of 120 million cubic last year, making it responsible for 30 percent of gas production in Norway, has likewise allowed Norway to increase its exports to western Europe.
Buyers have also been delaying purchases of Russian gas as they wait for the drop in crude prices to eventually bring down the price of Russian gas later this year.
However, Russia still remains the main supplier for all EU countries combined in 2014, with only a slight dip in imports from Russia from 43 percent to 42 percent of all gas imports.
Meanwhile, imports from Norway increased from 34 percent to 38 percent in the same year.
Europe has been seeking to diversify its gas supplies away from Russia after Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March last year, resulting in sanctions on Moscow.
In turn, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Gazprom, upon which Europe relies for 30 percent of its gas, to cut 60 percent of its gas exports to Europe.