OSLO, Norway, April 14 (UPI) -- The Norwegian government said it was placing an emphasis on the long view for the potential for offshore oil and gas production during the market downturn.
"The oil and gas industry is currently experiencing a period characterized by low oil prices and considerable challenges," the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said in a statement. "This means it is important to have a long-term perspective."
Data gathered by Statistics Norway, the government's record-keeping agency, found total investments in oil, gas, manufacturing, mining and electricity for 2015 were around $28 billion, down 9.4 percent year-on-year. For oil and gas alone, the year-on-year decline was 11.8 percent.
Early this year, the NPD said industry investments are expected to remain suppressed through the latter half of the decade, with levels expected to hold at around $22.5 billion for the next few years before a moderate uptick by 2019.
Norwegian energy company Statoil is working on the early stages of development of the Johan Sverdrup field, one of the largest discovered in the country's waters with an estimated reserve basin of up to 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Statoil said the field could generate $200 billion in revenues over the next 50 years.
"Continued high exploration activity is needed in order for the undiscovered resources to contribute toward maintaining production starting from around 2025, and to create values for the industry and for society at large over a long-term perspective," the NPD said.
According to its estimates, there are roughly 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent yet to be discovered in Norwegian waters. Half of that is in the Barents Sea, with the rest distributed in the North and Norwegian Seas.
"The North Sea has seen the greatest positive contributions in both exploration activity and resource growth, with Johan Sverdrup being the largest contributor to this value creation," the agency said.
The British waters of the North Sea are facing decline as fields there reach their maturation age. The NPD, however, said its greatest value is in the North Sea, where net cash flow is around $170 billion. For the Norwegian and Barents Seas, the corresponding figure is around $61 billion.