Equinor’s gas operations
Equinor is the largest gas producer on the Norwegian continental shelf, and the second-largest gas supplier in Europe. The gas volumes from Equinor and the State’s Direct Financial Interest on the Norwegian continental shelf (SDFI)—which Equinor also markets—constitute more than 20 per cent of the gas market in Europe (EU28). The company develops and participates in a number of important gas value chains worldwide.
What is natural gas?
When people talk about natural gas, you may hear them use a number of terms that refer to different types of gas, such as dry gas, wet gas and LNG. Natural gas is an umbrella term for a type of gas that has formed through the decomposition and transformation of organic matter below the surface of the earth. The gas may be composed of a number of chemical substances with different characteristics. Most of the substances are composed of hydrogen and carbon atoms and >we therefore call them hydrocarbons.
Dry gas is gas that at regular pressure and temperature does not contain any liquid components. It consists mainly of methane, but also often consists of some ethane and smaller amounts of heavier hydrocarbons and CO2. Such gas is also called pipeline gas and is transported in pipelines to the customers.
Wet gas contains both dry gas and heavier hydrocarbon compounds in a liquid phase. In addition to ethane, this means propane, butane and the heavier hydrocarbons. Under normal pressure and temperature, the wet gas will be partly liquid, partly gas. To get dry gas, the liquid phase is separated and split, and sold as pure components (ethane, propane, butane, etc.).
LNG is an abbreviation of liquefied natural gas, i.e. natural gas that has been liquefied by cooling it down. LNG maintains a very low temperature (-162 degrees C) and is transported in special LNG carrier ships to the customers.
Why natural gas?
Norwegian gas in Europe
Norway is currently the second-largest supplier of gas to the European gas market, and when European consumers turn on their gas cookers and get heat, it is thanks to the safety and reliability of Norwegian gas.
All fields on the Norwegian continental shelf contain varying quantities of gas. In the beginning, gas from the first fields to be developed was sold through lifespan contracts in which operators and buyers entered contracts for the entire operational life of the field. The gas is now marketed through several sales channels, including the spot market, through long-term contracts or directly to end-users such as power plants or industry.
Natural gas from a climate perspective
Did you know that Europe can cut CO2 emissions by moving from coal to natural gas in its energy production? The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that replacing coal with gas in the energy sector will be an important measure in reducing global CO2 emissions. In a world facing major climate challenges, we believe that natural gas must play a key role.
Crossing the Arctic Circle with Polarled
In a development of great strategic importance in the region of Møre and Romsdal in Norway, the 480-kilometre Polarled pipeline will convey gas from the Aasta Hansteen field in the Norwegian Sea to the gas plant at Nyhamna.
There has been no gas infrastructure in this part of the Norwegian Sea until now, and work on various solutions for gas transport has been ongoing for several years. The new pipeline therefore opens an entirely new area for gas extraction, and will stimulate exploration and resource development which in time can further strengthen Equinor's position as an exporter of gas to Europe. As operator for the development of Polarled we have also been responsible for laying the pipeline between Aasta Hansteen and Nyhamna. Once the pipeline is operational, Gassco will take over as operator for the pipeline and for the Nyhamna gas plant.
We completed the laying of the Polarled gas pipeline in the autumn of 2015, and with its completion, Norwegian gas infrastructure crossed the Arctic Circle for the first time.
The development of the Aasta Hansteen field is one of the largest and most complex industrial projects in Europe and the first deepwater project in the Norwegian Sea. The field is being developed with a so-called spar platform, which will be the largest of its kind in the world, as well as the first platform of this type on the Norwegian continental shelf.
The starting point is at the Aasta Hansteen field, 1,300 metres below the surface of the sea, with a pipeline diameter of 91cm
480 kilometres long, terminating at the Nyhamna processing plant in Møre and Romsdal
Polarled represents the first crossing of the Arctic Circle by Norwegian gas infrastructure
Capacity will be up to 70 million standard cubic metres a day to the plant at Nyhamna