March 14 (UPI) -- The Norwegian oil and gas sector needs to look beyond the horizon of big fields like Johan Sverdrup to keep production momentum going, a CEO said Wednesday.
For full-year 2018, Statistics Norway, the government's record-keeping agency, expects total investments in oil and gas extraction and pipeline transport will be around $1.4 billion. That's 11 percent higher than the government's estimate for 2018 from the fourth quarter.
Already by December, seven plans for development of operation were submitted for approval and more are expected this year. Among the largest would be plans for the second phase of the Johan Sverdrup oil field, which could represent a quarter of total Norwegian production once fully operational.
Phase 1 of the field's development is currently underway and about 70 percent completed. First deliveries from the field are expected to begin in late 2019.
Grethe Moen, the president and CEO of state-owned oil and gas company Petoro, said the industry needs to look beyond mega projects like Johan Sverdrup.
"In order to maintain petroleum production at the current level beyond 2025, it is entirely necessary to prove additional profitable resources," she said in a statement.
Around 60 percent of the undiscovered resources are in the Norwegian waters of the Barents Sea, and it's there where maintaining a high level of production may be important over the long term. Moen said exploration efforts in the Barents Sea last year were disappointing, but conceded developers have only scratched the surface of the regional potential.
Norges Bank, the country's central bank, said growth for the Norwegian economy was moderate and expected to remain that way into the middle of next year. In a fourth quarter survey, the government said mainland growth in gross domestic product was just under 2 percent, a level indicative of healthy growth, for the last three quarters.
"We are experiencing an economic upturn, so now we have to ensure that operations stay efficient and lay the foundation for future production by discovering more oil and gas," Moen said.