Troll Money Machine on the Norwegian Shelf

Troll Field, North Sea
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In recent years, Troll has been the largest producer of oil and gas on the Norwegian continental shelf. Today, the field accounts for about one-fifth of the total production of Norwegian oil and gas. Not bad for a field that was once characterized as being financially marginal.

A financially marginal project - that was how the operating company Norske Shell characterized the Troll field at the beginning of the 1980s.

But Chris Fay, at that time director of Norske Shell, had no idea just how wrong he was when he announced at the ONS oil exhibition in Stavanger in 1982, with the real price of oil at a historic peak, that Troll would only yield a net return of seven percent.

To be sure, the development task was challenging, both in size and in dollars. The Troll field was deep, situated in 300 meters of water, and the Norwegian shelf had a reputation for harsh weather and difficult conditions. The structure needed to tame the gas reservoirs became Troll A, a gigantic facility made of concrete and steel, the largest man-made structure ever moved.

But hard work and huge investments paid off and today the Troll field, with the facilities A (gas production), B (oil production) and C (oil production), accounts for 20 percent of the total production of oil and gas from the Norwegian shelf.

The Troll field is the largest gas field in Western Europe, and it is the heart of Norwegian gas exports. The Troll reservoirs contain such enormous amounts of gas that the field could meet Norway's overall need for energy for almost the next 70 years. But most of the annual gas production, currently 26-27 billion Sm3, goes to export. So far, the value of the oil production, which is about 350,000 barrels of oil per day, has been higher than the value of the gas production. The annual sales revenues are currently about NOK 60 billion.

Petoro and the State's Direct Financial Interest (SDFI) control 56 percent of the value in the field. This makes Troll a very large and very lucrative piece of communal property.

Operatorship of the Troll field is divided between Statoil (operator of gas production via Troll A) and Norsk Hydro (operator of oil production via Troll B and C). The licence period runs until 2030.

Troll licensees (rounded to two decimal places):

SDFI/Petoro 56.00%
Statoil 20.80%
Hydro 9.78%
Shell 8.10%
Total 3.69%
ConocoPhillips 1.62%
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