Two years have passed since the NPD last issued a resource report. The biggest change in the petroleum industry since then is that optimism on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) is greater than it has been for a long time.

After the government adjusted its exploration policy about 10 years ago, which included opening up for new companies on the NCS, the number of participants has almost doubled and the player picture has become more diversified. This has contributed to a high and stable level of exploration activity, and many new discoveries have been made. The number of applications and awards in the various licensing rounds shows that the NCS remains an attractive petroleum province.

This resource report presents analyses which show that what the NPD calls medium-sized companies are strengthening their position on the NCS. Such enterprises appear to be taking over the position held by the integrated international oil companies on the NCS since offshore activities began there almost 50 years ago.

It might reasonably be supposed that the substantial discoveries of recent years have reduced the estimate of undiscovered resources. But that is not the case. Expected undiscovered resources are actually larger than they were two years ago. This is primarily because new knowledge encourages greater confidence in opportunities for further discoveries. A lot of oil and gas remains to be found in all three parts of the NCS – the North, Norwegian and Barents Seas.

The North Sea has perhaps provided the biggest surprises in recent years, with substantial discoveries in areas originally awarded as far back as the first licensing round in 1965. In the Barents Sea, new discoveries have contributed to increased understanding of its geology, while exploration activity in the frontier areas of the Norwegian Sea has not lived up to the NPD’s expectations – yet.

An expansion occurred to the NCS two years ago, when Norway and Russia signed the final treaty on maritime delimitation in the Barents Sea. The NPD has recently mapped the Barents Sea South-East area, which could be opened to the industry as early as 2013 if the Storting (parliament) gives its consent.

The NPD is also mapping Norway’s continental shelf around Jan Mayen, with the work due to be completed in 2014. In addition to providing knowledge of potential petroleum resources, this mapping could contribute to increased knowledge of the geology in the deepwater areas west of the Norwegian Sea.

The NPD’s job is to help create the largest possible value for Norwegian society from the oil and gas industry through an Preface acceptable management of resources rooted in safety, emergency preparedness and protection of the natural environment.

Maintaining an overview of and assessing petroleum operations and resources on the NCS by the NPD is therefore very important. That forms an important foundation for a knowledge- based, long-term and predictable management of the oil and gas resources which belong to the people of Norway.


Sissel H Eriksen
Exploration director
Norwegian Petroleum Directorate