‘Not possible’ to dump gas for green energy – official
Europe cannot completely phase-out using natural gas in favor of greener energy sources at this stage, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said at the Raisina Dialogue international conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“Gas is a transitional source. It should be used just when we intend to turn to renewable energy. It is not possible to reduce the work of the gas industry immediately, especially in Europe, where demand for Norwegian gas is now high. We will continue to supply gas to the European market for another several years,” she said.
Her statements come amid calls from many European nations to reduce reliance on Russian energy, with some suggesting that turning to green energy could be an alternative. However, analysts say it is impossible to substitute Russian energy imports with green energy at short notice.
According to Huitfeldt, her country is moving towards reducing emissions under the EU green deal but views a complete and immediate transition to renewable energy sources unlikely, as there is currently a large demand for fossil fuels in the region. Oslo relies heavily on its oil and gas sector, being the EU’s second largest supplier of energy after Russia. Huitfeldt stressed that Norway considers it wrong to liquidate its oil and gas industry for the sake of a full transition to renewable energy.
“Of course, we will reduce emissions by 55% by 2030, but we will not support the elimination of the Norwegian oil and gas sector, as this would be a mistake. We use the accumulated knowledge in this industry and the surplus it gives to develop renewable energy,” she said.
Still, according to the official, the ‘green’ transition is necessary in the long run, especially as “the current crisis in relations with Russia demonstrates very painfully that dependence on fossil fuels can lead to vulnerability against the backdrop of energy supplies.”
Energy prices soared globally last month, after Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, which triggered a flood of Western economic sanctions against Moscow. The measures stopped just short of an embargo on Russian crude oil and natural gas but made it difficult for foreign companies to access the Russian energy market. Russia retaliated by introducing a new ruble-based payment mechanism for its natural gas, leaving open the possibility that other energy exports might follow. The situation is making market players and Russia’s foreign buyers wary of the possibility that the country’s vast energy exports might be cut off from the West.
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