High NCS activity in the first half year

Source: press release, 13 July 2019

Activity on the NCS is holding steady at a high level (photo: Jarle Åsland)
Activity on the NCS is holding steady at a high level (photo: Jarle Åsland)

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) reports that production on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) is holding steady at a high level. Many projects are in the development or planning phases.

Many exploration wells are being drilled. There have been few discoveries in the first half of the year.

Total petroleum production in the first half of 2019 is about 109.6 million standard cubic metres (Sm3) of oil equivalents (o.e.). Of this, around 38.1 million Smis oil, 61.4 billion Smis gas and 10.1 million Smis NGL and condensate.

Gas sales are in line with the NPD’s forecast, while oil production is somewhat lower.

Production on some fields is exceeding the forecast, while others are producing less.

Maintaining stable production demands considerable efforts from all parts of the industry.

So far this year, 76 new development wells have been spudded, somewhat fewer than at the same time last year. Drilling wells is the single most important measure to increase recovery. That is why identifying new drilling targets and drilling more wells is crucial.

There were 84 producing fields as of 30 June; 64 in the North Sea, 18 in the Norwegian Sea and two in the Barents Sea. The Oda field in the North Sea started production on 16 March this year.

The Aasta Hansteen field in the Norwegian Sea started production at the end of 2018.

To date, no fields have ceased production in 2019.

Development and operation
In addition to Oda which is operated by Spirit Energy, NPD also expects the Skogul (Aker BP) and Johan Sverdrup and Utgard fields in the North Sea, as well as Trestakk in the Norwegian Sea, to come on stream during the course of the year. The last three fields are operated by Equinor.

Overall, production from the Norwegian shelf is stable, safe and energy-efficient with low emissions to air and sea compared with other producing countries.

“These 6 months have also seen a lot of good work on the fields to create value for the Norwegian society,” says Ingrid Sølvberg, Director of development and operations in the NPD.

“The companies will also have the important future task of operating the fields efficiently, and developing, testing and utilising new technology while continuing efforts to improve recovery and reduce emissions.”

New developments
There are 21 development projects in progress; 14 in the North Sea, 6 in the Norwegian Sea and 1 in the Barents Sea. These projects represent diversity with new facilities, smaller discoveries that exploit existing infrastructure and major projects for improved recovery from mature fields.

There are still many discoveries that have not yet submitted a Plan for Development and Operation (PDO) to the authorities. The NPD expects that development plans will be submitted for more projects over the next 6 months.

In the first half of 2019, the authorities approved the PDO for Johan Sverdrup Phase 2 and the PDO for Phase 2 of Gullfaks Shetland/Lista.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy also approved the development plans for Duva and the Gjøa P1 project in late June, both operated by Neptune Energy, as well as for Lundin’s Solveig development.

Total investments for these three projects amount to more than 16 billion kroner, and the total recoverable resources are estimated at more than 27 million Smo.e.

On 1 July, ConocoPhillips submitted a PDO for Tor II in the North Sea. This is a redevelopment of a field that was in production earlier.

Exploration activity on the Norwegian shelf is high, and the companies are exploring both near infrastructure and in less mature areas.

The NPD expects that more than 50 exploration wells will be drilled in 2019. This is just as many as in 2018. Most of the wells being drilled in 2019 are wildcat wells, while in 2018 there was an almost equal number of wildcat and appraisal wells.

Discoveries have been made in just 6 of the 22 wildcat wells drilled so far this year. None of the wells in the Barents Sea Southeast have been a success as of yet, but there have also been several wells in mature areas that have not delivered.

“Conventional exploration targets in many mature areas have already been tested, and the companies are now trying out new types of exploration targets with several unknown factors in these areas as well. Therefore, it comes as no great surprise that the discovery rate has fallen somewhat,” says exploration director Torgeir Stordal.

“There is considerable diversity in the exploration concepts being tested. This reflects our diverse player landscape and the fact that the companies have creative geologists and geophysicists,” says Stordal.

“Even though the probability of discovery is low in many exploration targets, the upside can be significant if discoveries are made. It will be exciting to follow the results in the second half of the year.”