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Norway opposition win could delay power cable to Britain
May 3, 2017 / 11:35 AM / 5 months ago

Norway opposition win could delay power cable to Britain

OSLO (Reuters) - A planned power interconnector between Norway and Britain may be delayed if the opposition Labour party, which is currently leading in the polls, wins Norway’s election in September, the head of the project told Reuters.

NorthConnect’s 650-km, 1.4 gigawatt (GW) subsea cable could meet about a quarter of Scotland’s peak demand with clean energy from Norwegian hydroelectric dams and wind turbines.

Labour leader Jonas Gahr Stoere told the Industri Energi trade union’s annual meeting last Friday that he would not back the NorthConnect concession application if he wins Norway’s election.

“It is most likely that there will be consequences for the timing of the project. It might come later,” NorthConnect Chairman Odd Oeygarden said when asked about a potential Labour victory.

Oeygarden did not say how long a delay could be if Labour were to win.

Plans currently call for a final investment decision in 2019 with operations due to start by 2022 or 2023. The project is expected to cost up to 2 billion euros ($2.18 billion).

Trade unions backing Labour do not support the project, as they are concerned it could lead to higher power prices in Norway and make the country less attractive for energy-hungry industries.

“It will increase power and grid prices in Norway and will replace Norwegian gas,” Geir Vollsaeter, a special advisor at Industri Energi, Norway’s largest trade union in the energy sector, told Reuters.

“It is full cannibalisation of our offshore and land-based industries ... We are fully, fully against this cable,” he said.

An April 18-24 poll by Sentio Research gave Labour and two key support parties 91 seats in parliament, six ahead of the 85 needed for a majority and easily beating the ruling coalition and its backers, which had a combined 76 seats.

NorthConnect, co-owned by Swedish utility Vattenfall and Norwegian power firms E-CO Energi, Agder Energi and Lyse, has filed a construction application to the country’s market regulator, NVE.

A second interconnector between Norway and Britain, after Statnett’s [STASF.UL] North Sea Link (NSL), currently under construction and due to be completed in 2021.

NorthConnect, co-owned by Swedish utility Vattenfall and Norwegian power firms E-CO Energi, Agder Energi and Lyse, has filed a construction application to the country’s market regulator, NVE.

The project will also require a trade permit from Norway’s oil and energy ministry. Oeygarden said the project expects to apply for one in a few weeks’ time pending further examination of the project’s likely economic impact.

The Norwegian oil and energy ministry said it would evaluate the interconnector’s economic costs and benefits once it receives a submission.

Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik; editing by Gwladys Fouche and Jason Neely

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