Illustration; Credit: Morten Berentsen/NPD

Norway sees ‘considerable potential’ for further oil & gas exploration in Barents Sea

While new discoveries have recently been made in the Barents Sea, the Norwegian government believes that this area contains more undiscovered hydrocarbons, thus, more exploration activities are encouraged to uncover this potential.

Illustration; Credit: Morten Berentsen/NPD

The director general of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) emphasised during the Barents Sea Conference in Hammerfest last week that more exploration should be carried out in the Barents Sea to unlock the area’s hydrocarbon potential.

Torgeir Stordal, the NPD’s Director General, remarked: “There are still considerable resources in the Barents Sea, both in fields, discoveries and in exploration opportunities. Good work is also underway on a new development solution on Wisting, which is the largest discovery on the Norwegian shelf yet to be developed. We’re excited to keep track of this in the future.”

Stordal depicts the Snøhvit and Goliat fields as the foundation for current activity and production, adding that the Johan Castberg field will come on stream next year, which opens up new opportunities in the Barents Sea.

Moreover, new discoveries recently made in the area surrounding Goliat and Johan Castberg could generate substantial value when they are tied back to existing infrastructure. For Stordal, the Barents Sea will become a more important contributor, further bolstering Norway as an energy supplier to a Europe in need, once additional fields come on stream.

Vår Energi reported at the end of December 2022 that it made – what it describes as – “the largest discovery of the year” in the Goliat area in the Barents Sea. In early February 2023, the company also announced the discovery of oil in the Countach well in the Barents Sea.

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While the search is now largely ongoing for smaller discoveries that cannot justify an independent development as the expected size of discoveries decreases, these can still be profitable when seen in conjunction with other discoveries and can utilise the existing or planned infrastructure.

Despite the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) being one of the mature areas in regard to petroleum activity, Westwood forecasted in June 2022 that exploration activity would continue to thrive in Norway.

According to the NPD’s director general, only six per cent of resources have been produced in the Barents Sea, while the discovered resources are estimated at just over 30 per cent of the total, thus, there is still “a considerable potential in undiscovered resources.”

“Our calculations showed that exploration activity is profitable in all ocean areas, including the Barents Sea. A new profitable gas export solution could provide more incentive for exploration,” concluded Stordal.