The minister of petroleum and energy presented White Paper no 28 An industry for the future – concerning petroleum activities to the Storting (parliament) immediately before the summer holidays. This painted an optimistic picture of the future for Norway’s petroleum industry. For this picture to become a reality, the report notes that a parallel commitment will be required in four areas. We must improve recovery from producing fields. We must develop commercial discoveries. We must explore in areas opened for petroleum activity. And, finally, we must open new areas for such operations. The last time new sections of the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) were opened in this way was in 1994.

A number of substantial discoveries have been made on the NCS this spring and summer. Great excitement was expressed both in the petroleum industry and in northern Norway when Statoil found oil this spring in the Barents Sea. Total discovered gas in the Barents Sea during the summer, and it became clear later in this season that the structure in which the 16/2-6 (“Avaldsnes”) discovery was made by Lundin during 2010 extended into the neighbouring licence, where Statoil made the 16/2-8 (“Aldous Major South”) find in August. Although that discovery still needs to be appraised, the area could contain so much oil overall that it enters the top 10 list of discoveries on the NCS and could prove the biggest find there since the 1980s.

These discoveries emphasise that 2011 has so far been one of the most eventful years on the NCS for a long time, and supports the optimistic picture of the future painted by the government. They also confirm the conviction of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) that substantial undiscovered resources remain on the NCS, in both mature and frontier areas. The major new discovery in the North Sea demonstrates the need for long-term thinking, patience, professional ability and creativity. It also underlines the significance of the awards in predefined areas (APA) and the changes made to exploration policy in mature areas. The Lundin discovery occupies acreage awarded in the 2009 APA, while Statoil’s is in acreage awarded under the 2000 North Sea round (the predecessor to the APA).

The latest discoveries in the Barents and North Seas give grounds for optimism, and confirm that Norway can continue to be a leading European oil and gas nation far into this century. The agreement on the boundary with Russia also clears the way for exploration operations which open big perspectives for industry and jobs in the far north. The NPD regards the new Norwegian offshore area in Barents Sea East as interesting for petroleum activities, and believes these waters could contain oil and gas to supplement the estimated undiscovered resources on the NCS. Data on this area are nevertheless very limited, and provide an inadequate basis for assessing its resource potential. The NPD accordingly initiated seismic surveying in the summer of 2011.

This resource report provides a survey of petroleum resources on the NCS. It describes and analyses facts which provide an important foundation for continued knowledge-based and predictable administration of these resources. In the NPD’s view, the remaining resources can lay the basis for substantial production and value creation over many decades to come. It is important in that context to make new discoveries like those found in 2011, both in mature areas and in frontier regions which have yet to be explored. But it is also crucial that Norway produces all the commercial resources in fields which are already on stream.

However, the resource potential will not be achieved automatically. Realising this potential from producing fields, by developing discoveries and through exploration is challenging. While taking pleasure at the new discoveries, Norway must dare to meet these challenges. The latter are also discussed in detail in this report, particularly those related to realising the resource potential of producing fields. As the report makes clear, securing a number of measures to improve recovery will be important.

The NPD’s resource report for 2011 is being published at the same time as the Storting is debating White Paper no 28 on the petroleum activity. The latter lays the basis for political decisions and choices of direction. It is my hope that this report can supplement the depiction of the picture given in the White Paper, elaborate on the background for the measures proposed and help to ensure that these perspectives open the way to good choices of direction for enhancing value creation.

Stavanger, September 2011  

Bente Nyland

Bente Nyland
Director general


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The resource report 2011
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