The war made Norway’s oil and gas profits soar.Now it’s urged to help

Stavanger, Norway (AP) — Europe frantically seeks alternatives to Russian energy Greatly increased demand and prices for Norwegian oil and gas.

Europe’s second-largest gas supplier is resisting allegations it profited from Ukraine war as money pours in.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is looking for a Scandinavian country to replace some of the gas Poland has received from Russia in the past, saying Norway’s “huge” oil and gas profits “indirectly prey on the war”. He urged Norway to use the windfall to support the worst-hit countries, mainly Ukraine.

Last week’s comments touched a nerve, even as some Norwegians wonder if they are tackling Russia’s war by boosting economic aid to Ukraine and helping its neighbors end their reliance on Russian energy power industrypower generation and fuel vehicles.

Taxes on oil and gas companies’ windfall profits are common in Europe to help people cope with soaring energy bills, now exacerbated by war.Spain and Italy have both approved them, while the UK government plans to introduce one. Morawiecki asked Norway to send further oil and profits to other countries.

Norway, one of the richest countries in Europe, spends 1.09 percent of its national income on overseas development — one of the highest in the world — including more than $200 million in aid to Ukraine.With oil and gas depot Inflation, some would like to see more funding earmarked for mitigating the effects of the war – rather than being skimmed from funding for institutions that support people elsewhere.

“Norway has slashed most UN agencies and support for human rights projects to finance the cost of taking Ukrainian refugees,” said Berritt Lindemann, policy director at the Norwegian Helsinki Commission for Human Rights.

She helped organize Wednesday’s protest outside parliament in Oslo, criticizing the government’s priorities and saying there was “some truth” to Poland’s rhetoric.

“It looks really ugly when we know revenue has skyrocketed this year,” Lindeman said.

Oil and Gas Prices Already high in the energy crunch And soared because of the war. Natural gas is trading at three to four times what it was at the same time last year. Brent, the international benchmark, topped $100 a barrel after the invasion three months ago, and has rarely broken below it since.

State-controlled Norwegian energy giant Equinor’s first-quarter revenue quadrupled from a year earlier.

The bounty prompted the government to revise its forecast for oil activity revenue this year to NOK 933 billion ($97 billion) – more than triple the revenue for 2021. Much of the money will flow into Norway’s vast sovereign wealth fund – the world’s largest – to support the country as oil runs dry. The government is not considering moving it elsewhere.

Norway “has provided Ukraine with substantial support since the first week of the war, and we are gearing up to do more,” Secretary of State Evind Wade Petersen said in an email.

He said the country had provided financial support, weapons and more than 2 billion crowns of humanitarian aid “independently of oil and gas prices”.

Meanwhile, European countries scrambled to spread supply away from Russia, pushing up energy prices in Norway. They are accused of helping finance the war by continuing to pay for Russian fossil fuels.

This reliance on energy “provides Russia with a tool to intimidate and use against us, as now clearly demonstrated,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, former Prime Minister of Norway, told a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Russia has stopped supplying natural gas to FinlandPoland and Bulgaria reject requests to pay in rubles.

27 EU countries aim to reduce reliance on Russian gas two thirds by the end of the year Through conservation, renewable development and alternative supply.

Europe is pleading with Norway and countries like Qatar and Algeria, for help. Norway supplies 20 to 25 percent of Europe’s natural gas, compared with 40 percent in pre-war Russia.

“It is very important for Norway to be a stable, long-term supplier of oil and gas to the European market,” said Deputy Energy Minister Almond Vik.But company sells in volatile energy marketand “as oil and gas prices rise Since last fall, these companies have produced almost as much per day as their fields can provide,” he said.

Even so, Oslo has responded to Europe’s call for more gas by offering operators licenses to produce more gas this year.Tax benefits mean companies are investing in new offshore projectswith a new pipeline to Poland Opening this fall.

“In difficult times, we are doing everything we can to be a reliable gas and energy supplier to Europe. The market was in short supply last autumn and it is even more urgent now,” said Equinor spokesperson Ola Morten Aanestad.

The situation is a far cry from June 2020, when prices plunged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and Norway’s former government issued tax breaks for oil companies to stimulate investment and protect jobs.

Coupled with high energy prices, incentives expiring at the end of the year have prompted companies in Norway to release a series of development plans for new oil and gas projects.

However, these projects will not produce oil and gas until later in the century or even further into the future, when the political situation may be different and many European countries want to shift most of their energy use to renewables.

By then, Norway may face a more familiar criticism — that it is contributing to climate change.

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Associated Press reporter Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland contributed.