According to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s (NPD) latest resource report, as of 31 August 2019, there were 85 fields in operation on the Norwegian shelf. Only two of these are in the Barents Sea (Snow White and Goliath). A third, Johan Castberg, is scheduled to be put into production in 2023 by Equinor and partners Vår Energi and Petoro. The Wisting discovery will probably also be developed.
The NPD believes that most of the undiscovered resources on the Norwegian shelf are located precisely in the Barents Sea.
The Barents Sea has not delivered as many fields and discoveries as the southern part of the Norwegian shelf. “In that sense, the basin has not met the expectations originally thought in the 80’s,” says Egil Tjåland, head of the Department of Geosciences and Petroleum at NTNU, in an interview at nrk.no.
Tjåland emphasizes that far fewer wells have been drilled in the Barents Sea than in the North Sea and that it is easier to find good fields among the many discoveries in the south.
“Drilling in the Barents Sea commenced much later than in the North Sea, considerably fewer wells have been drilled in a large geographical area, and larger discoveries are needed to bring about a profitable development because there is limited infrastructure in the Barents Sea,” says Kristin Færøvik, CEO in Lundin Energy Norway to nrk.no.
Lundin Energy has made significant discoveries in the Alta and Gohta prospects, but earlier this year the company put the discoveries on hold because more resources are needed before a development can be financially viable.
“In the North Sea, we can drill on a much smaller resource base. In other words, prospects that are in the order of 20-30 million barrels can be developed, if it is close to an existing, producing field,” Færøvik continues to nrk.no.
Færøvik believes that the forthcoming developments in the Barents Sea can improve the situation.
When Castberg comes into production, it will probably trigger further exploration of smaller structures around the field. “And the same will probably happen when Wisting comes on stream,” she claims to nrk.no.