OSLO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Norway's gas exports to Europe this year are set to remain near the record levels reached in 2015, the head of the country's gas infrastructure operator Gassco told Reuters on Friday.
Norway is Britain's top gas supplier, supplying some 40 percent of British gas demand, and is also a major supplier to the European Union, supplying around a quarter of EU demand, mostly by shipping gas via subsea pipelines.
"If we get a normal winter, then we will be on the same level as during the record year 2015," Leversund said in an interview. "So far, it's looking good to be on the same level. The flows are high and stable."
Next year, Shell is planning to commission two booster compressors at its onshore Nyhamna gas plant to help to lift more gas from its giant offshore Ormen Lange field in the Norwegian Sea.
"This gives a possibility for higher flows (from Nyhamna), but I don't know what those will be," Leversund said.
Nyhamna, which feeds the Langeled pipeline, Britain's main subsea import route, was producing at around 50 million cubic metres (mcm) per day this year, below its nameplate capacity of 70 mcm per day.
The new gas year starts on Oct. 1, when suppliers adjust volumes to meet higher demand during the heating season.
Preliminary Thomson Reuters data showed that Norway exported slightly over 108 billion cubic metres (bcm) from Oct. 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2016.
"If we compare the ending gas year with the gas year of 2014/2015, then it seems that we will be in the same level," Leversund said.
Gassco's chief said Norwegian exports were set to remain high next year as well, while exploration in the Barents Sea might uncover new reserves, which could warrant extending the pipeline system further to the north.
"Exploration in 2017 is mainly planned in the Barents Sea. I think we might see some good results," he added. (Editing by David Evans)