April 4 (UPI) -- New natural gas discoveries on the Norwegian continental shelf could hold "significant" quantities of reserves, a subsidiary of Austria's OMV said Wednesday.
The Norwegian subsidiary said it made discoveries at the Hades and Iris targets in the Norwegian Sea. The company put the combined reserve estimate at between 40 million and 245 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalent.
"Hades and Iris could be of significant size and the licensees will evaluate and further investigate the potential of the discoveries," Knut Mauseth, the managing director of OMV Norge, said in a statement.
The targets are close to existing infrastructure from fields already in production in the Norwegian Sea. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, which confirmed the discovery, said the partners would progress with a view toward future development.
Apart from Russia, Norway is the largest oil and natural gas producer for the European market, designating nearly all of its offshore output for exports. Total production for February, the last full month for which data are available, was down 2.2 percent from January and 2.5 percent lower than the same month last year.
For full-year 2018, Statistics Norway, the government's record-keeping agency, reported that it 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.
OMV is the operator at the latest Norwegian Sea discovery. Its partners include Norwegian energy major Statoil and Faroe Petroleum. On Wednesday, Norwegian energy company DNO took a minority stake in Faroe, saying it wanted to expand its North Sea portfolio.