This week the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate presented a new report on petroleum activity in the High North. The NPD believes that with prudent management, new technology and a stepwise approach, the Barents Sea will become the most important area for maintaining production from the Norwegian Shelf.
Estimates show that there are still 4 billion Sm3 oil equivalents in undiscovered resources on the Norwegian Shelf . The report indicates that far more than half of these resources may be in the Barents Sea.
Director General Bente Nyland presented the report during the Barents Sea conference 2019 in Hammerfest. She noted that the chance of making really large discoveries is greatest in the Barents Sea, based on the fact that relatively few exploration wells have been drilled there compared with the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea, and there are still vast areas that have not been explored at all.
Technology and management
The Director General pointed out the importance of basing future activity in the Barents Sea on the knowledge and experience already gained; both in Norway as well as in other countries with similar climatic challenges.
The report highlights activity in the US/Alaska, Canada and Russia as examples. These areas can have far more challenging conditions than we have in Norway, yet solutions have been found that make it possible to safely produce oil and gas in areas with several metres of sea ice. The Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea is mainly ice-free, thanks to the Gulf Stream.
“These are some of the reasons why we cannot use ‘Arctic conditions’ as a general description,” said Bente Nyland in her speech. The rule must be that activity and installations are adapted to the conditions they must face.
Developing new technology will be crucial – for safety and preparedness, but also to ensure that production in the Barents Sea will be profitable from an economic standpoint. This development must take place in parallel with the stepwise approach always assumed in Norwegian petroleum management.
In her speech during the Barents Sea conference, Managing Director Kristin Færøvik in Lundin Norway addressed several of the issues outlined by the NPD.
“We have been one of the most active companies in the Barents Sea in recent years, and this is a role we plan to continue,” said Kristin Færøvik. “As part of this strategy, we have also contributed to promote new technology that is well-suited for the conditions in the Barents Sea.”
She particularly mentioned the TopSeis seismic technology, and a new solution for controlling drilling fluid levels when drilling in karstified carbonate. This is a type of reservoir characterised by large cavities. Without this new technology, loss of drilling mud could have made drilling extremely difficult.
“We will maintain an active exploration programme for the Barents Sea, and we will also apply for new acreage in the area in upcoming licence rounds. As of now, we have more than 10 drilling targets we want to test in the years to come,” says Færøvik.