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Norwegian Oil Patch Ramps Up Spending To Counter Decline

Norway’s oil and gas companies plan to spend 17 percent more this year, at about US$21.11 billion as they step up their exploration and production efforts, Reuters reports, citing data from the statistics authority of the country.

“This growth is considerably higher than indicated in the previous survey, which showed a 7.9% increase,” the authority said, adding that the 2019 forecast figure was the highest since 2015.

Next year, however, investments in oil and gas exploration and production will decline, the statistics agency also said.

Norway has been fighting a decline in oil and gas production that has resulted from the combination of field depletion and lack of many new discoveries. In fact, crude oil production slipped to 1.38 million bpd in April from 1.387 in March and 1.531 million bpd a year ago, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate reported earlier this month, warning that if this state of affairs continued, this year could see the lowest oil output rate in three decades.

As part of efforts to reverse the decline, the Norwegian government earlier this year said it would expand the area that will be offered for oil and gas exploration in the 2019 licensing round of acreage in mature areas. Related: IEA: CO2 Levels Hit Another Record High

Norway plans to include a total of 90 new blocks in the so-called APA annual licensing round this year, including 48 blocks in the Barents Sea, 37 blocks in the Norwegian Sea, and five blocks in the North Sea, Petroleum and Energy Minister Kjell-Børge Freiberg said  in March.

There has been opposition to the extension of the acreage under the APA licensing round from politicians of the opposition and from environmentalists, who have argued that those licensing rounds with additional blocks are being used to expand exploration to beyond the scope of those rounds—that is, mature and well-explored areas.  

orway has seen only two major oil and gas discoveries in the last few years: Johan Sverdrup—the North Sea giant, as operator Equinor calls it—which should start producing later this year, and Johan Castberg in the Barents Sea scheduled for first oil in 2022. The two will boost the national total for a while.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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