Norway doubles oil and gas resources estimate for Barents Sea

The undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Barents Sea are twice as large as previously assumed, according to new calculations by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), Norway’s petroleum resources regulator. 

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has recently mapped the eastern part of the northern Barents Sea – an area of about 170,000 square kilometers, 10,000 square kilometers larger than the Norwegian part of the North Sea.

A large part of this is located in the previously disputed area and most of the new information has been collected after the demarcation line agreement with Russia entered into force in the summer of 2011, the government agency said on Tuesday.

The share of undiscovered resources in the Barents Sea has thus been increased from 50 to nearly 65 per cent of the total undiscovered resources on the Norwegian shelf.

According to the agency, the resources in the new area are estimated at 1.4 billion standard cubic meters of oil equivalents. This is equivalent to 14 Johan Castberg fields, and more than five times the Snøhvit field.

“This figure is naturally associated with some uncertainty. It could turn out to be lower or it could be much higher,” says Director General Bente Nyland, adding that about 60 per cent of the resources are likely liquids, and the rest is gas.

The expected total resources are about the same in the mapped part of the northern Barents Sea as in the southern Barents Sea, but the northern part is only half the size of the southern part.

“This means that the mapped area in the north has about twice the resource potential per square kilometre as the southern Barents Sea,” says Nyland.

Since 2012, the NPD has worked on an assignment from the Norwegian Parliament to map the Norwegian sea area in the eastern part of the northern Barents Sea. The area has not been opened for petroleum activities.

The updated map of the northern Barents Sea shows a landscape that consists of basins, platforms and highs. According to Nyland, ridges are most important from a geological viewpoint. Good examples are the Utsira High in the North Sea and the Loppa High in the southern Barents Sea. The Utsira High is home to Johan Sverdrup and several other fields, and oil has been discovered, so far, in the Alta and Gohta prospects on the Loppa High.

“In the northern part of the Barents Sea it is particularly the Storbank high, the Sentralbank high and the Kong Karl platform that we consider promising,” concludes the Director General.

Regarding exploration in the Barents Sea, the NPD said on Tuesday that fifteen wells would be drilled in the Barents Sea in 2017, two more than in the record year 2014.

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