Europe’s frantic search for alternatives to Russian energy has dramatically increased the demand — and price — for Norway’s oil and gas.
But the continent’s second-biggest natural gas supplier is now fending off accusations that it is profiting from the war in Ukraine.
Norway’s “colossal” oil and gas profits are “indirectly preying on the war,” according to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who is looking to the Scandinavian country to replace some of the gas Poland used to get from Russia.
He urged Norway to use that windfall to support the hardest-hit countries, mainly Ukraine.
The comments last week touched a nerve, even as some Norwegians wonder whether they’re doing enough to combat the Kremlin’s war by increasing economic aid to Ukraine and helping neighbor countries end their dependence on Russian energy.
Norway, one of Europe’s richest countries, committed 1.09 percent of its national income to overseas development — one of the highest percentages worldwide — including some €200 million ($214.7 million) in aid to Ukraine.
Oil and gas prices were already high amid an energy crunch and have spiked because of the war. Natural gas is trading at three to four times what it was at the same time last year.
International benchmark Brent crude oil burst through €100 ($107.4) a barrel after the invasion three months ago and has rarely dipped below that since.
Norwegian energy giant Equinor, which is majority-owned by the state, earned four times more in the first quarter compared with the same period last year.