"It will soon be 50 years since petroleum activities began on the NCS. Activity and optimism are both high"

Optimism among players on the NCS is higher than it has been for a long time. The jobs and the challenges are piling up. It is now important that everyone concerned thinks long-term and delivers high-quality work. That will secure future revenues for the benefit of Norwegian society.

The offers made to the companies in the 22nd licensing round are extensive, embracing as they do production licences in unexplored areas – some in the Norwegian Sea and most in Barents Sea South.

All the nominations for the 22nd round and the subsequent applications show that the industry has recovered its interest in the Barents Sea. One reason is undoubtedly the discoveries which make up “Johan Castberg”. At the NPD, we have always had faith in this part of the NCS, even during the years when the majority of the companies were far less enthusiastic about it than they are today.

We also expect great interest from the companies after the Storting’s decision to open Barents Sea South-East. The invitation can come as early as this autumn.

The Barents Sea has been, and remains, a test of patience. Those who want to reap in the far north, must take a long-term view. The first blocks were offered in June 1979, and some 100 exploration wells have now been drilled there. Snøhvit is on stream and Goliat is approaching a start to production, but many other investments in exploration wells have yet to yield a return to society. Hopefully, some of the awards in the 22nd round will make a positive contribution to the overall account for the Barents Sea within a few years.

Our recently published report on Petroleum resources on the Norwegian continental shelf – exploration provides updated and valuable information for the players. Expected undiscovered resources are larger than they were when our previous resource report was published two years ago. Development of petroleum resources in the Barents Sea is still in an early phase.

We will be publishing a report this autumn which also deals with resources in the more mature areas of the NCS. Although much attention has been paid to the new areas in the far north, the work needed on and around existing fields must not be forgotten. Much remains to be done, and large volumes of oil and gas which can and should be recovered are still to be found. The companies face a challenge here which is at least as great as hunting for new far-northern resources.

The level of oil and gas exploration in recent years has been high, with 40-50 wells per year. This has yielded a good success rate, and some of the discoveries have been substantial. The same companies now awarded new licences have a big responsibility for ensuring that the development of these finds stays on schedule and to budget. Experience shows that this is a demanding business. The same applies to future projects for improved recovery.

It will soon be 50 years since petroleum activities began on the NCS. Activity and optimism are both high. Maintaining the current level of production calls for good decisions and for the industry to carry out the work it has undertaken to do. The government’s job is to ensure that this yields the best outcome for the national economy.


Bente Nyland
director general