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Natural gas

Kårstø processing plant outside of Haugesund, Rogaland
Photo: Einar Aslaksen
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Equinor produces gas equivalent to the gas consumption of more than 50 million European households

During energy production, gas emits only half of the CO2 of coal. Carbon capture and storage can reduce emissions still further. 

The total length of the network of gas transport pipelines on the NCS is equivalent to the distance from Oslo to Beijing, 11,880 kilometres.

Equinor’s gas operations

Equinor is the largest gas producer on the Norwegian continental shelf, and one of the largest suppliers to Europe. The combined gas volumes from Equinor and SDFI (the Norwegian state’s gas volumes) constitute nearly 30 per cent of the gas market in Europe.

In Europe, our most important markets for gas are Germany, England and France. Equinor also sells liquid natural gas (LNG) from the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea, transported by specialised ships to customers worldwide. The global LNG market is growing, and we are now supplying LNG cargoes to more than 20 countries.

In the USA, Equinor has shares and production in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in the Appalachian Basin. Gas is used for energy production, heating and industrial purposes. Through transport agreements to New York City and Toronto, residents can keep winter temperatures at bay with shale gas from the Marcellus field.

In Algeria, Equinor operates the In Salah gas field and the gas and condensate field In Amenas together with BP and Algeria's state-owned oil and gas company, Sonatrach. We are also the operator for the Hassi Mouina exploration licence, with Sonatrach as our partner.

Equinor has sales offices for gas in Stavanger, Brussels (Belgium), London (Great Britain) and Stamford (USA). In addition to selling our own gas, we also sell the Norwegian government's gas volumes. With the government's gas from State's Direct Financial Interest on the Norwegian continental shelf (SDFI) and our own gas combined, we are in charge of marketing and selling about 70 per cent of gas from the Norwegian continental shelf.

Traditionally, most of Equinor's gas has been sold through long-term contracts to large European gas companies and suppliers. In the absence of a separate market price for gas, the sale price has often been indexed to the price of oil.

In recent years, market liberalisation has contributed to breaking up traditional value chains in Europe. The transport network has been opened up for use on equal terms for everyone. This has given us new opportunities in this market. We are now selling an increasing share of the gas through established markets for gas trading—so-called hubs—as well as directly to end-users.

Through commercial negotiations with our counterparts, we have modernised most of our long-term contracts, and gradually moved away from oil indexing. The price of gas is now directly linked to the price in the market places.

Photo: Helge Hansen

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.

Why should we use natural gas?

In addition to being cost-effective and flexible in its application, natural gas is also an attractive source of energy from an environmental perspective. When used for energy production, natural gas emits between half and one third of the CO2 emissions of coal-fired power plants with the same electricity production.

The most common uses for gas are heating, cooking, energy production and industrial use. There is also a limited but growing use in transport.

Natural gas is especially beneficial within energy-intensive industries. In chemical industries, natural gas is not only useful as an energy carrier, but also as a necessary raw material for the production of medicines, fertilisers and plastic.

Vehicles running on natural gas have 20 to 30 per cent lower CO2 emissions than those running on petrol. Liquid gas is mainly used for heavy transport and shipping, while compressed gas is used in private cars, commercial vehicles and public transport. 

Natural gas is also useful in conjunction with renewable energy sources. Since renewable energy from solar and wind is intermittent, gas can provide a stable base load of electric power.

Equinor anticipates that the world's overall demand for natural gas will grow in the coming decades, mainly due to increasing demand for gas in Asia, and especially in China, as well as the positive climate effects of replacing coal with gas in energy production.

Norwegian gas in Europe

Norway is one of the largest suppliers of gas to the European gas market.

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.

Gas production and storage

Natural gas transportation pipeline systems
Natural gas from the Norwegian continental shelf runs through an extensive network of pipelines. It is the largest in the world of its kind, extending over 8,000 kilometres.

The pipelines connect the fields at sea and the processing plants onshore in Norway to landing points in Germany, Belgium, France and Great Britain.

Equinor is technical service provider for the operator and responsible for the technical operation for most of these pipelines.

Owner: the Gassled partnership
Operator: Gassco
Technical service provider: Equinor

Gas storage: Equinor has two gas storage facilities: Etzel in Germany and Aldbrough in Great Britain.

Per Henry and Solveig Gonsholt in Hammerfest
Photo: Øivind Haug

Natural gas from a climate perspective

Did you know that Europe can cut CO2 emissions significantly by replacing coal with natural gas in electricity production? The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that using in the energy sector is 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.

Natural gas is a source of energy with many advantages. It is the most flexible, usable and carbon-efficient fossil energy source, and it is inexpensive and abundantly available.

Demand for gas in Europe is expected to remain stable, while the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects an annual global growth of 1.4 per cent until 2040.

Most industrialised countries are major consumers of gas, and a significant increase in demand is expected in Asia, Latin-America and Africa in the decades to come. By building LNG import terminals, a country can increase its access to energy significantly in the course of a few years. For countries undergoing economic development, increased access to energy may be key to economic growth.

In Europe—Equinor’s core market—gas demand has declined in recent years, especially in the power sector where gas is being ousted by cheap coal and subsidised renewable energy. About 75 per cent of emissions in the European energy sector derive from coal.

If five coal-fired power plants are replaced by five gas-based power plants, the reductions in CO2 emissions are equivalent to a 9,000 megawatt wind farm. This is three times as much wind power as was installed onshore in Germany in 2013. 

When used to heat homes or in industry, natural gas emits 25 to 30 per cent less CO2 than oil.

We expect the demand for gas for power production to recover in the next two decades, primarily as a result of more stringent European climate policies.

Our onshore facilities

The gas processing plants at Kårstø north of Stavanger and at Kollsnes outside of Bergen play a key role in processing and transport. This is where most of the gas from the Norwegian continental shelf is brought ashore for further processing. The process separates out the wet components, such as condensate, ethane, propane, butane and naphtha. These products are then transported to customers worldwide on ships. Dry gas is transported through the pipeline network to customers in Europe. Equinor is responsible for the technical operation of the plants, while Gassco is the operator.

REMIT operational data

REMIT operational information on gas production

When Equinor becomes aware of relevant information about the availability or unavailability of facilities for gas production or transport, we will publish this information on our website, to comply with EU Regulation 122/2011 (REMIT).

Our REMIT reporting

Conditions of sales

General terms and conditions for sales of our products.

Conditions of sales