Norway Gas Production to Decline in 2020 with Maintenance

By Lefteris Karagiannopoulos

OSLO (Reuters) - Maintenance at Norway's natural gas fields and processing plants is scheduled to cut production capacity by some 5.35 Bcm in 2020, less than in 2019, according to a Reuters calculation based on data from system operator Gassco.

Following the release by Gassco of a series of maintenance schedules on Friday, as well as data published earlier, the expected scope of 2020 maintenance plans is now complete, the operator said.

The scope of outages announced for 2020 is some 1.65 bcm smaller than that of 2019, a year of high maintenance that was estimated to amount to about 7 bcm when Gassco released maintenance plans last year.

Norway is the second largest gas supplier to Europe after Russia and its exports are key to Britain's energy security, with outages in Norwegian fields and processing plants causing large price fluctuations across the North Sea.

Shortly after publishing its 2020 maintenance plans, Gassco also released an initial list of maintenance-related production outages for 2021, amounting to 3.12 bcm.

The number is expected to change by the end of next year however, when the operator is expected to give a more detailed estimate.

Norway's offshore pipeline system has a capacity of up to 120 billion cubic metres of gas per year, Gassco has previously said.

The scope of 2020 maintenance could still be subject to revisions at a later time, Gassco added.

The current 2020 plans show that production capacity at Norway's largest gas field Troll will be cut by some 2.3 bcm next year, which is lower than the 4.5 bcm expected for 2019.

Troll will see reduced production during May, June and September. Kollsnes, the country's largest processing plant and a major exporting facility for Britain, will also undergo maintenance, with production cuts seen from May to September.

In 2019, Norway's piped gas exports are set to decline for a second year in a row, after hitting a record 117.4 bcm in 2017. It has so far exported 80.8 bcm this year, 6.3 bcm short of the same time in 2018, a year when it sent abroad a total 114.2 bcm of gas.

(Additional reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Terje Solsvik and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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