OSLO, Norway, May 20 (UPI) -- As oil prices rise on market balance sentiment, the Norwegian government said oil production in April was 3 percent higher than expected.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate published preliminary production figures for April, showing oil production averaged 1.63 million barrels per day, about 3 percent higher than the agency had expected.
"The oil production is about 4 percent above the oil production in April last year," the NPD said in a statement.
An NPD representative said in response to email questions the increased output was a mixed bag, as some fields produced less and some more. There was no comment offered on the influence of crude oil prices.
For nearly two years, crude oil markets have been pressured by global economic growth that was too slow to take up the heavy supply of energy products. The latest monthly market report from the International Energy Agency finds balance is finally starting to return to the market, with supply growth stagnating at the same time as demand in Asian economies increases.
Crude oil prices are up 85 percent from their low point below $30 per barrel early this year, though still off about 25 percent year-on-year. Lower prices means energy companies have less capital to invest in exploration and production, which for expensive shale fields in the United States has resulted in production declines.
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.
According to Norwegian government 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.
Even though most of the discoveries were considered minor, the NPD said there were 17 discoveries made in territorial waters last year and 82 fields in operation at the end of 2015, a 60 percent increase from 2005.
Norway is one of the top oil producers in the world and among the top suppliers to the European market.