EU presses Norway in bid to ease dependence on Russian gas

EU presses Norway in bid to ease dependence on Russian gas
Norway provided less than one-fifth of EU gas imports in 2021 and has warned it will struggle to deliver more. Credit: New Scientist

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged key energy partner Norway on Wednesday to accelerate the move towards renewables amid fears about gas shortages owing to the Russia–Ukraine conflict.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre met European Council President Charles Michel in Brussels amid talks on how to reduce the economic "pressure" on the single market of 27 EU states and some 450 million consumers.

"In recent months, if not years, Russia has used the EU's energy dependence to put pressure not only on Ukraine but also on the European Union," von der Leyen said in a statement before talks turned to detailed gas provision needs.

Ending dependence on Russian supply

Von der Leyen insisted that EU leaders "are now really determined to get out of the dependency on Russian gas." She said Oslo had always been a "reliable supplier of gas... always true in what you promised and offered."

However, Norway has recently warned that it is already at full production capacity, making it virtually impossible for Oslo to step in were a sudden stranglehold on Russian supply to become a diplomatic hurdle.

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Nearly half of the EU's gas imports in 2021 came from Russia, according to Eurostat; Norway only accounted for one-fifth of total needs.

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