In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Norway has become Germany’s top gas supplier. From 24 February 2022, it took Germany around half a year to completely replace Russian gas in its domestic consumption, according to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW). As of December 2022, Norway accounted for more than 40% of German gas imports. The second most important supplier is the Netherlands, which accounted for nearly a third of Germany’s gas imports at the end of last year.
Germany has pursued myriad alternatives to diversify its gas supply. In December 2022, Berlin opened the country's first floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Wilhelmshaven, north of Bremen. Olaf Scholz’s government approved the project on 27 February 2022 – three days after Russian troops entered Ukraine.
As well as diversifying its gas supplies, Germany has sought to diversify away from gas. By December 2022, Germany’s gas-fired electricity generation had decreased by around 14%. Total natural gas consumption in Germany fell by roughly 15% in 2022, primarily because of high gas prices and warmer weather compared with 2021.
The BDEW’s analysis finds that Russia’s share of average annual German gas imports decreased from around 55% in 2021 to 20% in 2022.
That Norway was able to displace Russian gas imports for the EU’s biggest economy comes as little surprise. Germany was already the largest single destination for Norwegian gas in Europe in 2021 and Norway was the second-largest gas exporter to Europe following Russia.
Nearly all of Norway’s gas production is exported, with the country accounting for approximately 3% of global gas supplies. Norway was the third-largest exporter of natural gas in the world in 2021, behind Russia and Qatar, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2022. Domestic gas consumption made up just 1% of Oslo’s total final energy consumption, reports the International Energy Agency.
Around half of the estimated total recoverable resources on the Norwegian continental shelf have yet to be produced and sold, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the government agency responsible for the regulation of Norwegian oil resources. The current forecast is for an increase in production until at least 2025.
Most recently, in early January 2023, Germany and Norway agreed to establish a Strategic Partnership on Climate, Renewable Energy and Green Industry and to potentially develop a hydrogen pipeline between the two countries. The idea is that initially blue and later green hydrogen – made from natural gas with carbon capture and storage, and renewable electricity, respectively – could be exported from Norway to Germany as a climate-friendly alternative to natural gas in future.