A Gap in the Grid Attempts to introduce natural gas in Sweden 1967-1991
Abstract: This thesis follows the process of introducing natural gas in Sweden and the construction of a Northern European gas grid from 1967 to 1991. Natural gas is a relatively unnoticed fuel in Sweden today, but this relative anonymity stands in contrast to an extensive historical activity that has taken place behind the scenes of Swedish energy policy. The single pipeline constructed between Denmark and Sweden in the early 1980s was both preceded and followed by many other attempts to construct a larger natural gas pipeline in the region made in the last 50 years. Åberg traces these attempts while discussing the complex and messy process of constructing and managing a transnational energy infrastructure.Åberg follows actors in Sweden and other countries in their attempts to negotiate and construct a natural gas infrastructure, and puts this process into a national as well as transnational context. The perceived risks and opportunities surrounding natural gas are examined, together with factors that have influenced the development of natural gas in a broader sense. By seeing the changing and messy natural gas projects as arenas where different actors construct and negotiate risks and opportunities, as well as contexualize the projects, Åberg shows how the natural gas sector in Sweden has evolved and taken shape.The study shows that natural gas in Sweden has suffered from unstable actor coalitions on different levels, a difficult market situation, and a changeful political context, especially with regard to energy policy. The import status of the fuel and the consequential transnationality of the natural gas infrastructure have also made the process of constructing a pipeline more complex. However, natural gas was introduced in Sweden, showing that when a strong enough actor coalition agreed that there was enough reason to warrant a natural gas introduction and was ready to join this endeavor, a connection could be achieved. This puts into question to what degree general explanations in terms of finance and policy drive energy decisions, and makes a case for showing how these explanations are adapted into their social and historical contexts in sometimes surprising ways.
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