Norway goes on oil & gas spree and gives its blessing to projects worth over $18.5 billion
In pursuit of more hydrocarbons to bolster energy security and the country’s economy, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE) has greenlighted 19 oil and gas projects on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) with investments totalling more than NOK 200 billion (over $18.5 billion).
According to the Norwegian authorities, oil demand in the world fell sharply in the first half of 2020, as a result of the pandemic, thus, there was great uncertainty about future developments. Come June 2020, the Storting adopted temporary changes to the Petroleum Tax Act to make it easier for oil companies to carry out planned investments.
As a result, the projects that were adopted in the period 2020-2022 and fall under the temporary tax changes result in total investments of around NOK 440 billion (almost $40.76 billion). The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy claims that about 290 billion (nearly $26.9 billion) is expected to be directed at Norwegian actors and the investments are calculated to provide a basis for around 158,000 full-time jobs in the period from 2020 to 2029.
Terje Aasland, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, commented: “These are projects that contribute to continued high and stable production from the Norwegian continental shelf, and to employment and value creation for the whole of society. We are further developing the petroleum business so that jobs and large incomes are created for the community.
“The implementation of these projects secures jobs, builds competence and provides a basis for further technology development which will be decisive for the development in other industries such as carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, offshore wind, aquaculture, and minerals.”
Therefore, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has granted its stamp of approval for 19 oil and gas projects. While those in the North Sea are operated by Aker BP, the projects in the Norwegian Sea are operated by Equinor, Aker BP, Wintershall Dea, and OMV.
“The Yggdrasil project is the largest industrial project the Storting will deal with in this period. The projects generate activity at the shipyards in Egersund, Stavanger, Haugesund, at Stord, in Verdal and in Sandnessjøen, as well as at a number of suppliers and sub-suppliers across the country,” added Aasland.
According to operators, the projects, which have now received the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy’s seal of approval, come with a total investment tag of over NOK 200 billion (more than $18.5 billion). These projects entail new developments, further development of existing fields, and investments in projects for increased extraction at existing fields.
“The projects are also an important contribution to Europe’s energy security. Norway is the only net exporter of oil and gas in Europe, and by carrying out these projects we ensure new production from the latter half of the 2020s, so that, we can maintain high Norwegian deliveries,” outlined Aasland.
Which North Sea projects have the go-ahead?
Several of Aker BP’s projects have been approved in the North Sea. This includes the Yggdrasil development, which covers a large area consisting of several extraction permits and discoveries located between the Alvheim and Oseberg fields. The development concept consists of an unmanned production platform to the north – Munin, formerly Krafla – a process platform with a well bay area and living quarters – Hugin A, formerly NOA – to the south and a normally unmanned wellhead platform on Frøy – Hugin B – which will be tied back to Hugin A.
The entire Yggdrasil area is expected to be controlled remotely from an onshore integrated interaction centre and control room in Stavanger. This development will be powered from shore, contributing to low emissions of less than 1 kg CO2 per barrel. In addition, a joint pipeline infrastructure is being established for the export of both oil and gas.
The investments in Yggdrasil are estimated at around NOK 115 billion (over $10.6 billion) while recoverable resources are estimated at around 650 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe). The licensees plan to start production in 2027. The employment effects are estimated by the companies at a total of 65,000 man-years over the project’s lifetime. Aker BP’s partners are Equinor and PGNIG.
The next project is Valhall PWP-Fenris, which involves further development of the Valhall area, where a new unmanned platform on the Fenris field will be connected to a new integrated process platform at Valhall. The total investment framework is around NOK 50 billion ($4.6 billion), of which around 65 per cent is expected to be delivered by Norwegian suppliers.
The project’s employment effects are estimated by the companies at 65,000 man-years in the development and operation phase with estimated recoverable resources of 367 million barrels of oil equivalent. The production start-up is slated for the third quarter of 2027. Aker BP’s partners are Pandion and PGNIG.
The last North Sea project on this list is Symra and the Norwegian Ministery of Petroleum and Energy elaborates that the Symraut building is a seabed facility, which will be connected to the Ivar Aasen platform with a further connection to the Edvard Grieg platform. Total investments are estimated at around NOK 9 billion (almost $832 million) with expected production of 48 million boe.
The expected start of production is in 2027 and the employment effects are estimated by the companies at 4,100 man-years. Symra will receive power from shore through the area solution on Utsirahøyden. Aker BP’s partners in this project are Equinor and Sval.
Which Norwegian Sea projects got a thumbs-up?
Multiple oil and gas projects in the Norwegian Sea have now been approved. Among these is Equinor’s Irpa gas discovery, which is planned to be developed with a subsea facility that will be connected to the Aasta Hansteen platform. The expected recoverable resources are estimated at around 125 million barrels of oil equivalent, of which 98 per cent is gas.
The total investments are NOK 14.8 billion (nearly $1.37 billion). The start of production is planned in the fourth quarter of 2026 with expected production until 2039. Equinor’s partners are Wintershall Dea, Petoro, and A/S Norske Shell.
Trond Bokn, Equinor’s senior vice president for project development, underscored: “We are experiencing a strong demand for oil and gas from the Norwegian continental shelf in the current geopolitical situation. By utilising the Aasta Hansteen and Norne infrastructures, these development projects will quickly bring new production to market with low development costs, while extending the activity on the host platforms.”
Additionally, Equinor also got the all-clear signal for the Verdande subsea development that will be connected to the production and storage vessel on the Norne field – the FPSO Norne – in the Norwegian Sea. The Norwegian ministry believes that the development of this project contributes to good utilisation of existing infrastructure, and can extend the life of Norne, which has been producing since 1997.
The recoverable resources are estimated at around 36 million boe and the total investments are NOK 4.7 billion (over $434 million). The planned start of production is in the fourth quarter of 2025, with expected production until 2030. The ministry is of the opinion that the extended life at Norne could lead to increased recovery corresponding to 11 million boe if production becomes possible until 2035. Equinor’s partners are Petoro, Vår Energi, Aker BP, and PGNIG.
Furthermore, Wintershall Dea’s Dvalin North development, which is located around 270 km north of Kristiansund and is expected to produce around 84 million boe, mainly gas, also got the green light to proceed forward. The investments are close to NOK 8 billion (more than $739 million). This project will be developed with a subsea frame that will be connected to the Heidrun platform via a bottom frame on the existing Dvalin field.
The gas will be exported via the Polarled pipeline to Nyhamna and then to the market. The planned start of production is in the fourth quarter of 2026 and the production period is expected to be around 13 years. Wintershall Dea’s partners in this project are Petoro and Sval.
Aker BP’s Skarv Satellite project, which encompasses three separate seabed developments – Alve Nord, Idun Nord, and Ørn – will be connected to the FPSO Skarv off the coast of Helgeland. The total investment framework is estimated at approximately NOK 17 billion (nearly $1.57 billion), and recoverable resources are estimated at a total of about 120 million barrels of oil equivalent, mainly gas.
The start-up of production is anticipated in the third quarter of 2027 with an estimated production period of six to ten years. The employment effects are estimated by the companies at 7,800 man-years in the development and operation phase. Aker BP’s partners are Wintershall Dea, Equinor, and PGNIG.
Thomas Øvretveit, director of the Skarv area, highlighted: “We have many exciting tasks ahead of us and aim for 2040. If we are to achieve our goal of creating the oil and gas hub of the future in the Norwegian Sea, we must succeed in developing and putting the Skarv satellite project into production. The SSP developments also paves the way for future developments in the area, related to new discoveries, that can contribute to prolonged high production from the Skarv FPSO.”
Moreover, Wintershall Dea’s Mary development is a further development of the Maria field, which has been in production since 2017. Investments are expected to be in the range of NOK 4 billion (almost $370 million), which will provide 22 million new barrels of oil equivalent. The start of production is planned for the second quarter of 2025 with an assumed production period until 2040. Wintershall Dea’s partners are Petoro and Sval.
The last project on the approved list is OMV’s Berling field, which consists of two separate discoveries in the Norwegian Sea and is planned to be developed with a subsea framework connected to the Åsgard B platform. Total investments are estimated at around NOK 9 billion (close to $832 million). The expected recoverable resources are estimated to be approximately 44 million boe, consisting mainly of gas.
The production is planned to start in 2028 with an assumed production period of five years while the employment impacts are estimated by the companies to be 4,200 man-years for development and operation together throughout the field’s lifetime. OMV’s partners in this project are Equinor and DNO.
Berislav Gaso, Executive Vice President for Energy, OMV, emphasised: “Berling is one of our key natural gas development projects and is geared to increase the share of natural gas in our portfolio as outlined in OMV’s Strategy 2030. The gas and condensate volumes are expected to further strengthen Norway’s position as an important European supplier of natural gas.”
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has also dealt with projects where a decision has been taken on investments for increased extraction at existing fields, more specifically Solveig Phase 2 and Andvare.
The development of Solveig Phase 2 is an extension of the PDO for the first development phase of Solveig and will be connected via existing infrastructure at Solveig to the Edvard Grieg platform. The production start-up for this project is planned for the first quarter of 2026. Aker BP is the operator of Solveig, with OMV Norge and Wintershall Dea as license partners.
Stine Kongshaug McIntosh, VP Projects Execution for Edvard Grieg and Ivar Aasen at Aker BP, remarked: “The production from Symra and Solveig phase 2 will contribute valuable production for the licensees and society at large. The fact that we can utilise existing process capacity at Ivar Aasen and Edvard Grieg helps to make the developments economically robust.”