Norwegian oil and gas sector expects investment surge

The government of one of Europe's leading producers says it's expected to emerge from three years of an investment slump this year.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Feb. 23, 2018 at 8:25 AM
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Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Total investments in oil and gas extraction and transport for this year should be 11 percent higher than initially expected, Norway's government said Friday.

Norway is one of the world's leading oil and gas producers and sends nearly all of its production from offshore to the European market, making it the region's top supplier after Russia.

The preliminary rate for January production of 1.6 million barrels per day on average marked an increase of 5 percent, or 77,000 barrels per day, from December. Total gas production of 12.9 billion cubic feet per day was an increase of 2.2 percent from the previous month.

Oil production from January, however, was 1.4 percent less than expected, but 4.9 percent more than expected for natural gas, NPD data show. Year-over-year, oil production was relatively even, while gas output was 1.3 percent lower for January 2018.

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.

"Almost the entire increase emanates from field development," the agency stated.

Already by December, seven plans for development of operation were submitted for approval and more are expected this year. Among the largest would be the 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.

Last year, total investments were nearly $2 billion, or 9.5 percent less, than final investments for 2016 and the third year in a row for a slump.

"The decrease in 2017 is mainly due to lower investments within fields on stream, onshore activity and shutdown and removal," the Norwegian report read. "Falling oil prices and higher costs decreased the profitability in the oil sector significantly."

The energy market, as gauged by the price of oil, has been on an upswing at least since the middle of last year. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, is around $65 per barrel, nearly $10 per barrel higher than this date last year.

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