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Norwegian Oil Output Misses Target

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OSLO - Norway's crude oil output fell 13% on the year in the first quarter and missed the official forecast, partly due to technical problems on fields operated by BP PLC and Statoil ASA, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said Thursday. 

First-quarter crude oil output was about 1.454 million barrels a day, or 2% below the directorate's forecast. 

Norway's oil output has been on a declining trend for more than a decade. Total oil and gas output rose slightly last year, as higher gas production offset a huge drop in oil output. The total output was still 15% below the country's 2004 peak. 

Norway's output of crude was 1.429 million barrels in March, down 12% on the year, according to preliminary numbers. Natural gas output was 12.7% down on the year at 9.6 billion cubic meters. 

Production in March was reduced on fields such as the Statoil-operated Oseberg, Troll and Snorre fields and the BP-operated Skarv and Valhall fields, the directorate said. The Statoil-operated Snohvit gas field was shut down in March due to repairs on the Melkoya liquefied natural gas plant. 

The directorate has previously projected Norway's oil and gas production to fall 5% in 2013, before rebounding and remaining at around the 2012 level until 2017. 

Fueled by high prices, oil companies operating in Norway expect record-high investments in 2013. Most of the investments are required to maintain and boost production in existing fields such as Ekofisk and Troll, but new fields are also being developed, such as Edvard Grieg, Ivar Aasen and Martin Linge.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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