The creation of Gassco forms part of an extensive reorganisation of the Norwegian oil and gas sector since 2001.
Gassco was founded by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE) on 14 May 2001, and took over the operatorship of all gas transport from the Norwegian continental shelf on 1 January 2002.
This activity had previously been carried out by several companies, and the creation of Gassco formed part of an extensive reorganisation of Norway’s oil and gas sector in 2001.
It complied with the requirements stipulated in the European Union’s gas market directive for organising transport operations in this sector.
The political considerations which underpinned the creation of Gassco found expression in proposition no 36 (2000-01) to the Storting (parliament) and the subsequent recommendation from the Storting’s standing committee on the environment.
These documents specified in part that transport and processing plants must serve all gas producers, and that Gassco must act in a neutral manner towards these.
The company was assigned a key role in the further development of the gas transport system, which would contribute to efficient overall utilisation of resources on the NCS.
2002: Gassco operational
During the company’s first operating year, transport system owners were required to open their facilities to third parties as a consequence of the EU gas market directive. Sales of Norwegian gas became company-based. The Gassled joint venture was established, and is now the formal owner of the bulk of Norway’s gas infrastructure.
2003-04: Operator assignments and coordination
In its second operating year, Gassco took over the operatorship of Norpipe, the gas pipeline from Ekofisk to the Emden receiving terminal. This also saw the launch of internet-based systems to serve as marketplaces to buy and sell transport capacity, and Gassco led the work of establishing the joint venture for Langeled, the world’s longest underwater pipeline.
2005: New assignments
With European demand for gas steadily growing, Gassco secured new assignments from the MPE to ensure stable Norwegian deliveries of this commodity.
One job, later known as the Skanled project, involved developing business plans for establishing gas pipelines to the Grenland region of south-east Norway and Skogn/Trondheim in the middle of the country.
Gassco was also asked to head work on developing a value chain for carbon capture, transport and injection below ground.
2006: Five years and new records
Deliveries of Norwegian gas had never been higher when Gassco celebrated its fifth anniversary. For the first time, more than 300 million cubic metres were produced and delivered in a single day. This record was the equivalent of 10 times Norway’s hydropower output.
With the takeover of the operatorship for Langeled, and with the southern leg of this system in operation, Gassco was ready to set new delivery records.
Work on carbon value chains continued, with Gassco, Gassnova and Petoro identifying 11 of these for submission to the MPE.
2007: Heavyweight operator
The company’s operator responsibilities expanded, and it took over day-to-day operation of four receiving terminals for Norwegian gas in Germany, Belgium and France. That increased its workforce by 100 people in continental Europe.
Upgrading of the Kårstø processing plant was planned and initiated.
2008: More responsibility
Gassco’s responsibility was expanded by the takeover of the operatorships for the gas export line linking the Kvitebjørn and Visund fields in the North Sea to the Kollsnes processing plant.
The MPE resolved to extend and widen the mandate related to carbon transport. Gassco was now to prepare solutions for piping carbon dioxide captured form the Kårstø and Mongstad plants and, in collaboration with Gassnova and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, lay the basis for an investment decision on carbon transport and storage.
2009: Piped post
The Jimmy 007 pig carried a letter through Langeled from the mayor of Aukra in Norway to their opposite number at Easington on the English east coast. Gassco and Shell thereby celebrated the first internal inspection of the export pipeline for gas from Ormen Lange.
The Skanled project exploring opportunities for a new gas pipeline to eastern Norway and on to Sweden and Denmark was shelved because of the financial risk involved.
2010: The way ahead
Gassco took over the operatorship in June of the pipeline for rich gas from the Gjøa and Vega fields, which ties directly into Britain’s Flags transport system.
More gas than ever is being delivered to Europe through the integrated transport system for Norwegian gas. Upgrading will be needed to maintain secure and stable deliveries, including a modernisation of the Zeebrugge receiving terminal. The initiative has also been taken on a project which involves building a new receiving terminal for Norwegian gas in Emden.
Gassco is also preparing to take over day-to-day operation of the Easington receiving terminal for the Langeled pipeline. When this happens in 2011, the company will be directly responsible for running receiving terminals in four European countries – Germany, Belgium, France and the UK.