Norway’s offshore region covers 2.04 million sq km and is split into five areas: the northern, southern and central parts of the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea. Over the five regions, there have been 1400 exploration wells drilled since 1966.
There are 76 fields in production— Ekofisk, in the southern part of the North Sea, is the largest. In addition, there are 16 fields currently being developed.
Out of the five regions, the Norwegian Sea is the least mature province: the Draugen field was the first on stream in 1993.
There has been a decline in activity outside the Norwegian Sea in recent years, but this has been made up for by recent discoveries in the northern North Sea and Barents Sea, leading to predictions that production will remain at a steady rate for the next 30 to 40 years.
Drilling activity has seen a sharp rise since 2005. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate says 40 exploration wells are spudded every year, and there have been three of the largest ever finds in the area since 2008. Although discovery rates are high, proven volumes in these discoveries generally remain small.
The recent success of the Norwegian continental shelf is partially due to changes in government policy on exploration, including tax rebates. This has encouraged new entrants, with the number of companies operating in the basin having almost doubled to 50 since 1990.
However, rig rates remain higher in Norway than in other petroleum provinces, such as the neighboring UK continental shelf. According to the 2012 Reiten Commission, this is because of high operating costs in Norway.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate predicts that a total 85 billion boe will be produced, an increase of 267 million boe from last year’s estimate. This target can be reached if managers, project leaders, and engineers focus attention on increasing overall production, and developing new discoveries. OE
Kristin Færøvik is CEO of Rosenberg WorleyParsons, and served on the Reiten Commission. She joined Bergen Group, bought by WorleyParsons this year, after serving as managing director for Marathon Oil in Norway. She previously held roles within BP. Færøvik holds degree in petroleum engineering from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.