Research article on natural oil and gas seeps on the Norwegian shelf


A number of natural gas leaks – primarily methane – have been observed on the seabed south of Svalbard. Photo: CAGE

07/06/2023 The scientific data being presented in a new research article documents one of the largest gas seepage areas in the Arctic Region.

The article also documents natural oil seepage in the Barents Sea.

The article Widespread natural methane and oil leakage from sub-marine Arctic reservoirs is the first research article from the NPD’s collaboration with the Center for arctic gas hydrate, environment and climate and the University of Tromsø. It was first published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

Read the article here.

Rune Mattingsdal, NPD geologist, is one of the authors of the research article:
“The article argues that the Barents Sea could be one of the most active global ‘hotspots’ for natural seepage of methane gas under water”.


Parceling the anthropogenic and natural (geological) sources of fossil methane in the atmosphere remains problematic due to a lack of distinctive chemical markers for their discrimination. In this light, understanding the distribution and contribution of potential geological methane sources is important.

Here we present empirical observations of hitherto undocumented, widespread and extensive methane and oil release from geological reservoirs to the Arctic Ocean. Methane fluxes from >7000 seeps significantly deplete in seawater, but nevertheless reach the sea surface and may transfer to the air.

Oil slick emission spots and gas ebullition are persistent across multi-year observations and correlate to formerly glaciated geological structures, which have experienced km-scale glacial erosion that has left hydrocarbon reservoirs partially uncapped since the last deglaciation ~15,000 years ago.

Such persistent, geologically controlled, natural hydrocarbon release may be characteristic of formerly glaciated hydrocarbon-bearing basins which are common across polar continental shelves, and could represent an underestimated source of natural fossil methane within the global carbon cycle.

Read more Scientific articles and reports


Ola Anders Skauby

Director Communication, public affairs and emergency response

Tel: +47 905 98 519

Updated: 08/06/2023

Latest news

Green light for Breidablikk
28/09/2023 The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has granted consent for start-up of the Breidablikk field in the North Sea. Production is expected to start in October.
Help us improve our website
28/09/2023 We want to continue evolving our website, npd.no, and would like your input on how we can improve. We would greatly appreciate if you could complete a brief user survey. It should only take about two minutes and it is anonymous.
Gas/condensate discovery in the North Sea
27/09/2023 DNO Norge is concluding the drilling of exploration well 25/7-11 S “Norma” in the North Sea. Recoverable gas/condensate volumes of between 2-21 million Sm3 were proven.
Gas discovery in the Norwegian Sea
27/09/2023 OMV has made a gas discovery in well 6607/3-1 S, 225 km west of Sandnessjøen.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and the Petroleum Safety Authority are changing their names
22/09/2023 Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre emphasises that both agencies are crucial in the effort to further evolve the Norwegian shelf, both within oil and gas as well as new industries.
Dry well near the Munin field in the North Sea
22/09/2023 Equinor Energy is concluding the drilling of exploration well 30/11-15 in the North Sea. The well is dry.
Drilling permit for well 6406/3-12 S
22/09/2023 The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has granted Wintershall Dea Norge AS drilling permit for well 6406/3-12 S in production licence 836 S, cf. Section 13 of the Resource Management Regulations. The well is a re-spud of well 6406/3-11 S and located 70m southeast of the first well.
Postponed: Seminar on safe CO2 storage
21/09/2023 The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) and Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA) are postponing the planned seminar on safe CO2 storage due to ongoing work on updating the CO2 Storage Regulations.
Production figures August 2023
21/09/2023 Preliminary production figures for August 2023 show an average daily production of 2 006 000 barrels of oil, NGL and condensate.
New edition of the continental shelf map
12/09/2023 You can now download or order the new edition of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s shelf map.