Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Companies invested in the oil and gas sector offshore Norway said Tuesday that the time to invest is now as the region faces a period of field maturation.
"The Norwegian continental shelf still holds a lot of potential, however securing value creation and thousands of jobs for the decades to come is not an easy task," Arne Sigve Nylund, the executive vice president for develop and production at Norwegian energy major Equinor, said in a statement.
The company said it's on pace to keep producing oil and gas from the region at a profitable level until 2030. From then on, offshore Norway enters a maturation phase and may require heavy investments to stay in production.
"We need to start now," Nylund said. "After 2022, there are currently few big projects remaining."
Norway is an important energy supplier to the European economy and designates nearly all of its offshore oil and gas production to the export market. Alongside Russia, it's the main producer for Europe.
To keep the sector active, Equinor said it plans to drill 3,000 new wells over the coming decades, extend the life of dozens of offshore installations and tap as many as 30 exploration wells per year to find new sources of natural gas.
European countries have little natural gas of their own, leaving them dependent on Norway and Russia. Germany energy company Wintershall, which holds 50 licenses offshore Norway, said it was making its own commitments to open the production window for Norway.
Speaking at an energy conference in Stavanger, Hugo Dijkgraaf, the managing director of Wintershall's regional subsidiary, said the company planned around $2.3 billion in investments in exploration and development offshore Norway to 2020.
"Using existing infrastructure instead of building new installations not only saves time and costs but also protects the environment," he said in an emailed statement. "This approach is technologically, environmentally and economically exemplary."
The Norwegian government expects total investments in the oil and gas sector next year of $19.8 billion, about 6 percent higher than its previous estimate.
Johan Sverdrup is the largest oil field development offshore Norway in nearly 40 years and will be in production for at least 50 years. Once the second phase is completed in 2022, the field will be producing about 660,000 barrels of oil per day.