NCS petroleum resources remain steady

Source: NPD Report

55 years on, the Norwegian Continental Shelf still holds potential – detail from a 1965 map of licences (source: NPD)
55 years on, the Norwegian Continental Shelf still holds potential – detail from a 1965 map of licences (source: NPD)

This week, a report from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) estimated that, as of 31 December 2019, the total proven and unproven petroleum resources on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) were approximately 15.7 billion standard cubic metres of oil equivalents (Sm3 o.e.) – an increase of 104 million compared to year-end 2018 estimates.

The report states:

“Resources is a general term for all oil and gas that can be recovered. Resources are classified according to maturity, which measures how far along they are in the planning process leading to production. The primary classifications are reserves, contingent resources and unproven resources.”

By the NPD’s latest reckoning, 48% of the 15.7 billion Sm3 o.e. NCS total resources have been sold or delivered thus far, with of the 48% (approximately 8.2 billion Sm3 o.e.) of the estimated resources yet to be proven.

Petroleum resources and uncertainty in the estimates as of 31 December 2019 (illustration: NPD)
Petroleum resources and uncertainty in the estimates as of 31 December 2019 (illustration: NPD)

Reserves total
Year-end total reserves – “recoverable petroleum volumes not yet produced, but for which a production decision has been made” – were at 2.9 billion Sm3 o.e. – a gross increase of 123 million Sm3 o.e. from the end of 2018.

Reserve growth was primarily due to the plan for the Tor field redevelopment and the Balder Future project.

Contingent resources
Existing resources awaiting a production decision – “contingent resources” – totalled 1,378 million Sm3 o.e. by the end of 2019 – from both new discoveries and untapped resources in fields.

Of the 42 wildcat wells drilled in 2019, 17 were discoveries – one in the Barents Sea, six in the Norwegian Sea and ten in the North Sea. These discoveries increased resources by 43 million Sm3 o.e., bringing the total to 702 million Sm3 o.e.

An additional 676 million Sm3 o.e. of contingent resources are located in existing fields.

Unproven
The NPD’s updated estimate for 2019 – which occurs every second year – was calculated to be 3,910 million Sm3 o.e., standing at 48% of the overall remaining resources on the NCS.

Ocean areas
The North Sea boasts the largest number of producing fields at 66 and is also projected to hold the largest percentage of remaining resources, with 44% of the total.

The Norwegian Sea, with 19 producing fields, is estimated to hold 19% of the total reserves. The Barents Sea’s 37% is a significant amount, but with only two fields in production (Snøhvit and Goliat), the NPD expects that significant reserves in the area are yet to be proven.

The full report
All in all, the NPD’s resource estimates reveal that while the NCS may be mature, the potential for the province remains significant – especially considering the largely unexplored area in the Barents Sea.

The full report includes a detailed breakdown of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s resource accounts, as well as a description of how the NPD follows United Nations Framework Classification System for determining resource estimates.

The full report can be accessed in the NPD’s fact pages.

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