NPD Trims Barents Sea Oil, Gas Estimate

Barents Sea
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The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's (NPD) resource report is issued every other year. The Resource Report 2009 provides an up-to-date overview of the resources and activities on the Norwegian continental shelf, and highlights important challenges for the Norwegian petroleum activities.

Exploration activity has reached record-breaking levels in the last couple of years, which has led to many, but small, discoveries. The NPD believes that large discoveries can still be made in areas of the shelf that have not been extensively explored.

Many exploration wells are still being drilled in acreage that was awarded in the first licensing rounds. This is partially explained by the fact that no new acreage has been opened on the Norwegian continental shelf since 1994, and also that many, but small, discoveries are still made in this acreage.

Much of our oil and gas production comes from discoveries made in the first 20 years, during the period between 1969 and 1989. Resource growth from discoveries made in the last decade is low, and provides only a small contribution to future production.

About one-fourth of the NPD's estimated recoverable petroleum on the Norwegian shelf is classified as reserves, which means oil and gas with approved production plans. Increases in the reserves take place when discoveries are made that can either be developed independently or phased in to existing fields, or through the implementation of measures to improve recovery.

Reserve growth in the last couple of years has been very low. In 2005, the NPD set a goal of increasing the oil reserves on the Norwegian shelf by 800 million Sm3 (standard cubic metres), or 5 billion barrels by 2015. It appears that this goal may be difficult to achieve. The NPD assumes that about 75 per cent of the growth in reserves must come from fields already in operation.

The companies on the Norwegian shelf work continuously to improve oil recovery from the fields using various measures. Gas injection has proven to be a very effective method. So far, about 260 million Sm3 of additional oil has been produced with the aid of gas injection. According to the companies' approved plans, the result will be even better; additional production will rise by 60 – 100 million Sm3. In total, this is equivalent to all the oil produced from the Gullfaks field from 1986 to the present.

With today's adopted plans, about 54 per cent of the oil will be left in the ground when production ceases. The NPD believes that production can be increased beyond the planned level by using new methods to improve recovery. This can result in significant gains, but it will require extensive cooperation both among the oil companies and with the authorities in order to qualify and test new technologies on the fields.

In connection with the Resource Report 2009, the NPD has updated its resource estimate for the Barents Sea. The estimated recoverable resources have been reduced from 1030 million Sm3 o.e. (oil equivalents) to 910 million Sm3 o.e. Estimated volumes of oil and gas in the ground have increased somewhat, but the recognition of poorer reservoir properties than expected, distance to the market and costs associated with development solutions have reduced expectations for the percentage of these resources that can be produced.

During 2010, the resource estimates for the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea will also be updated. Up-to-date resource figures for Nordland VII and Troms II will come in connection with the revision of the comprehensive management plan for the Barents Sea and the waters off Lofoten in 2010.

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