Equinor May Postpone Closure of Norwegian Gas-Fired Power Plant

Norway-based energy major Equinor could continue to operate its natural gas-fired Mongstad power plant to support the country’s electricity supply. The company recently said it may reconsider its decision to close the plant by the end of August.

Norway, which like many other countries has suffered drought conditions over the past several months, is experiencing lower water levels in its reservoirs. Officials are concerned that generation from the country’s hydropower stations could be limited as a result. Hydropower in a normal year accounts for about 90% of Norway’s electricity generation, according to government data.

The country’s energy minister, Terje Aasland, and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store spoke with parliamentary party leaders on Aug. 8 to discuss Europe’s energy crisis, which has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Aasland has said Norway is likely to limit power exports moving forward. The country is among the top exporters of electricity in Europe, sending about 20% of its generation to neighboring countries.

Aasland on Aug. 8 said that the refilling of reservoirs will have priority over power production should water levels fall below seasonal averages. Aasland, in a text of his briefing to parliament, wrote, “In practice, this will involve control mechanisms that limit the possibility of export in the event of low reservoir filling.”

Statnett, which operates the power grid, recently said Equinor should postpone the closure of Mongstad, a 280-MW plant that also supplies district heating. Mongstad entered commercial operation in 2009, providing power and heat to a nearby refinery and other facilities in the Bergen region.

Norway is the largest producer of oil and gas in Western Europe, but uses very little of its domestic output for power generation. Most of the natural gas produced by Norway is used to power offshore oil and gas drilling platforms.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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