Nordic neighbors attack Norway’s ‘selfish’ plan to curb electricity exports
Norway’s plan to curb electricity exports as Europe grapples with a serious energy crisis is a dangerous and selfish act, according to the Nordic country’s neighbors, that could bolster Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The electricity grid operators of Denmark, Finland and Sweden have taken the unusual step of: warning Norway that its proposal to stop exporting electricity amid concerns in Oslo over its hydropower production undermined the European market.
“It would be the first country in Europe to do this in electricity. It would be a very dangerous and nationalistic move. It’s very selfish behavior,” Jukka Ruusunen, chief executive of Finnish network operator Fingrid, told the Financial Times.
“If we don’t work together, it will help Russia. The best way to help Russia is to leave the team,” he added.
The criticism underscores how the European energy crisis has heightened tensions between traditional allies as power prices soar following Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
As the largest petroleum producer in Western Europe, Norway will make record sales this year from oil, gas and electricity sales.
But amid mounting concerns about how Europe will deal with both high prices and energy availability this winter, Norway’s proposal to curb electricity exports to increase its own security of supply has sparked anger.
“There is a danger in any national measure in any situation like this – they are contagious. People might say that if Norway can do it, so can we. That’s why I think it’s the wrong approach,” said Johannes Bruun, director for the electricity market at Energinet, the Danish grid operator, Denmark had no plans to retaliate, he added.
Andreas Bjelland Eriksen, Undersecretary of State at the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, confirmed that the center-left government in Oslo was looking for a mechanism that would curb production, and therefore exports, when the reservoirs that power the hydroelectric low levels fall. ”.
Each mechanism would be in line with its “obligations” it has to Europe and would contribute to the “stability of the entire integrated energy system,” he added.
But his neighbors disagree. Ruusunen noted that Norway made “so much money” in the wake of the Russian invasion. A cut in electricity exports would also help “populist, nationalist voices split the market. In the end everyone would lose,” he said.
Norway is eager to present itself as a reliable supplier of petroleum after supplanting Russia as the largest gas source to Europe. “If they do this, it will hurt the whole Norway brand. Reliability and trust are one of the basic ingredients,” says Ruusunen.
Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, Norway’s finance minister, tried to assuage fears in Helsinki and Stockholm by pointing out that they received electricity from the north of Norway, where reservoirs are high and prices low – unlike in southern Norway. the country that supplies Denmark, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.
But Ruusunen made short shrift of that argument, saying there was only a “very weak” and “very small” power supply line in the north.
The Norwegian government is under pressure to do more to alleviate rising electricity prices domestically, especially for struggling businesses in the south of the country.
The country already offers the most generous energy subsidies in Europe, paying 90 percent of consumer bills above a certain level.