Record exports from Norway as natural gas prices rise
Norway's exports hit a record high in July, boosted by higher natural gas prices since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Norway's exports reached 229 billion kroner (€23.2 billion) last month, 0.4% above the previous record set in March this year, the Nordic country's statistics agency said.
Norway's trade surplus of 153.2 billion kroner (€15.5 billion) was also the highest on record.
Norway is a major offshore oil and gas producer, and its energy exports have surged as European countries have sought alternatives to Russian energy in the face of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Since the invasion, the EU has approved bans on most Russian coal and oil to take effect later this year, but not Russian natural gas because the 27-nation bloc depends on it to run factories, generate electricity and heat homes.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin has restricted gas exports to pressure the bloc to ease sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine or for other political purposes. The EU has had to scramble to fill gas tanks ahead of winter, when demand surges and utility companies reduce their reserves to keep homes warm and power plants running.
Statistics Norway said natural gas exports reached 128 billion kroner (€12.97 billion) in July, more than four times higher than in the same month last year.
Jon Olav Roerhus, senior advisor for foreign trade at Statistics Norway, said a reduction in Russian gas shipments to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline contributed to higher gas prices last month, which was "the main reason for the extraordinarily high export value we are experiencing now."
At a one-day meeting of five Nordic leaders in Oslo on Monday, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said: "We must phase out Russian gas as soon as possible." Frederiksen said Europe was "facing a difficult downturn".
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said Nordic countries should also focus on renewable energies, including wind and solar.
"We are all struggling with rising energy prices," said Gahr Støre, whose country is not an EU member.
"As we enter the cold winter, our people must understand what is at stake," said Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
Higher exports of fish and metals also contributed to the increase in Norway's exports.
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