STAVANGER, Norway, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Norway cuts its 2014 oil production forecasts on Wednesday, and warned that investment growth will soon stop, but also sharply raised its undiscovered resource estimate on more Arctic riches.
The world's seventh biggest oil exporter and Western Europe's top gas supplier sees oil production at about 1.46 million barrels a day this year, broadly in line with last year - below a 1.52 million barrel forecast on capacity constraints and a big slowdown in investment growth.
"The high level of activity in the petroleum sector is expected to continue, but growth will stop," the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said in a statement.
"The high cost level and uncertainty surrounding future oil and gas prices entail a considerable challenge for the development of the Norwegian shelf."
Oil production is expected to be broadly steady at the current level for the next several years and in its initial forecast for 2018, the NPD sees output at the 2014 level.
Gas output is also expected to stagnate this year but could rise quickly in the second half of the decade to a record high 115.8 billion cubic metres in 2018 as new fields come onstream, the NPD added.
Even as investment growth slows, Norway increased its total undiscovered resource estimate to 18.5 billion barrels of oil equivalents (boe) from a previous estimate for 16.3 billion boe.
The big increase came on a more than 30 percent rise in the estimate for resources in the Arctic Barents Sea and a 9 percent increase for the Norwegian Sea.
Total investments are seen growing less than 2 percent in both 2014 and 2015 before a fall back around 2018, the NPD added.
Norway's top oil producers include Statoil, Shell , BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.
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