Norway's July natural gas exports hit record high as demand, prices soar

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An inside view of the Aasta Hansteen gas platform at the yard in Stord, Norway March 8, 2018. Picture taken March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Nerijus Adomaitis/File Photo

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OSLO, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Norwegian natural gas exports hit a record high of 128.4 billion crowns ($13.26 billion) in July as prices and demand in Europe surged amid disruption of Russian supplies, official data showed on Monday.

Natural gas revenues were four times higher than for July last year, while the volume of gas sold rose by 5.7% to 10.2 billion cubic metres, Norway's statistics office said.

European gas prices spiked following Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the end of February and a subsequent drop in Europe's imports of Russian gas.

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"Maintenance and lower capacity on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which transports gas from Russia to Europe, has contributed to pushing gas prices up to a record level in July," Norway's statistics office said in a statement.

"High gas prices are the main reason for the exceptionally high export value," it added.

Norway, western Europe's largest oil and gas supplier, has adjusted its gas production to sell more gas for exports, instead of re-injecting it back into the ground to pump more oil.

"Europe continues to decarbonize (its energy sector), but the first thing that they want to get rid of is Russian gas," Norway's Climate Minister Espen Barth Eide told Reuters in an interview prior to the release of the export data.

The war in Ukraine, which Russia calls a "special military operation", meant there will be more demand for Norwegian gas in Europe in the short run, but there will be less demand in the long run as Europe will need to catch up with its emission reduction targets.

July gas export revenues exceeded the previous record, set in March, by 14.3%, the statistics office said, adding that the value of Norwegian oil exports also rose 52.1% from a year ago to 48.7 billion crowns.

In addition, Norway in July exported 4.8 billion crowns worth of electricity via international cables, including to Britain and Germany.

Demand for exports and historically low levels of Norwegian hydropower plant reservoirs have pushed domestic power prices to record highs, prompting calls to restrict exports.

Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said the government would come up with a proposal on the mandatory level of reservoir filling and power exports in the autumn.

($1 = 9.6816 Norwegian crowns)

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Reporting by Nora Buli and Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Susan Fenton

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