Equinor chief sees EU gas market in ‘better place’ than last year

By Ron Bousso and Marwa Rashad

LONDON (Reuters) – Equinor’s CEO said on Wednesday the European gas market will remain volatile this winter, and will face a lot of variables, but is in a stronger position than last year.

Global gas prices leapt to all-time highs last year after Russia cut its gas supply to Europe, leading to record imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and efforts to cut demand, especially by industry.

But Europe seems much better prepared than last year, with almost full gas storage, lower energy prices and new sources of fuel.

“Europe is in a much better place than last year … We actually expect the market to be quite volatile over the winter,” Anders Opedal told the Energy Intelligence Forum in London.

Opedal highlighted the variables around the gas market at the moment, including the weather and competition from Asia for LNG, a globally traded commodity.

“We will do everything we can to make sure that we maximise gas to come through the pipes, but Europe will be dependent on the LNG (liquefied natural gas) supply,” he added.

Separately, Opedal said he was disappointed that New York regulators earlier this month rejected the company’s request for improved terms for offshore wind power contracts to reflect inflationary pressures.

Equinor together with its partner BP is planning to build the Empire Wind 1, Empire Wind 2 and Beacon Wind wind farms off the New York coast, which have a combined capacity of 3,300 megawatts, capable of powering 2 million homes.

“This is not the last word,” he said, adding Equinor would continue working with suppliers and local governments to find solutions allowing the projects to move forward.

(Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Jane Merriman)