Platts: Norwegian oil field too big to ignore for possible Brent update

The price for Brent crude oil serves as the global benchmark for crude oil prices and includes oil from the Forties, Oseberg, Ekofisk and Troll grades from the North Sea.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Updated Feb. 20, 2018 at 9:29 AM
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Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Once production starts from the Johan Sverdrup oil field in the North Sea, it could be a component of the basket of oils that make up Brent, Platts reported.

Norwegian operator Statoil, which holds a majority share in the Johan Sverdrup partnership, revealed the resource range has been updated slightly, from 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent to 3.1 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Phase 1 of the field's development is currently underway and about 70 percent completed. All told, Johan Sverdrup could represent a quarter of total Norwegian production and first deliveries from the field are expected to begin in late 2019.

From London, Jonty Rushforth, a senior director for energy pricing at S&P Global Platts, said production volumes can't be overlooked.

"Sverdrup will be a prime candidate for inclusion into the Dated Brent basket and Platts will continue to engage with market participants on whether and how this could happen," he said in emailed remarks.

The price for Brent crude oil serves as the global benchmark for crude oil prices. During the last decade, Platts changed up the basket of what constitutes the benchmark by adding Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk grades from the North Sea as production from the Brent field itself started to decline.

The pricing agency said now those other fields are starting to show their age and it's time to consider adding another blend to what constitutes Brent. Last year, the company said it's responding to industry support by adding oil from the Troll field, also operated by Statoil.

By the standards used by Platts, the oil from the Troll field is the next-best thing to what's already in the Brent basket. The field in 2016 reached its 1 billionth barrel of oil after 20 years in production.

Mixing up the Brent basket makes it a robust benchmark.

"We will continue to engage and listen to their views as part of our active stewardship of the benchmark to safeguard Dated Brent for the next decade and beyond," Vera Blei, the global director of oil markets at Platts, added.

The first phase of production from Johan Sverdrup could peak at around 440,000 barrels of oil per day. Phase 2 production, which is expected by 2022, could push total capacity to 660,000 barrels per day.

Statoil said it plans to submit its initial plan for development and operation for phase 2 to Norwegian regulators in the second half of this year.

The total field is expected to stay in production for about 50 years. Elin Isaksen, a spokesperson for Statoil, told UPI the company was monitoring the Brent component closely.

"So far, we have not been invited for consultation on this, but if or when there will be a consultation process we will of course accept it," Isaksen said. "It is in everyone's interest to have a robust and transparent benchmark."

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