Plethora of natural gas discoveries offshore Norway could go untapped, petroleum authority warns
(WO) – The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has conducted a mapping of natural gas resources that, for various reasons, have yet to be developed. Several of these discoveries could be produced in a manner that is profitable from a socio-economic perspective.
About 65% of the overall natural gas resources on the Norwegian Continental Shelf have not yet been produced. Some of the remaining gas resources face a variety of challenges that could complicate production.
Challenging resources. "Despite gas having a significantly higher recovery rate than oil, we'll never be able to produce all the gas. There are normally good reasons for low recovery rates in gas fields. We believe that the licensees are doing a good job to maximize recovery rates. It's challenging to extract extra gas beyond this," says Kjersti Dahle, the NPD's Director for Technology, Analyses and Coexistence.
She goes on to say that, "identifying which gas resources are difficult to develop, and what's needed to ensure that the resources are produced, gives us a sound basis for dialogue and potential measures along with the industry so that these resources can be recovered".
With the current plans and projects, the NPD expects natural gas production on the Norwegian Continental Shelf to be maintained at a high level over the next five years. After this, production is expected to decline at a fairly rapid rate.
"There are considerable gas resources in discoveries and fields in operation. It makes sense to think that higher gas prices can drive necessary technology development, coordination and new infrastructure in order to realise this gas, as long as there is the will and ability to do this," Dahle says.
Significant uncertainty. As of Dec. 31, 2022, there were 84 natural gas discoveries on the shelf with 1,273 GSm3 of gas in place. These resources are found in reservoirs with different degrees of complexity, which has made them difficult to develop.
The NPD's calculations show a significant value potential for many of these discoveries, but it is highly uncertain how much of this can be produced.
This is due to challenges in the subsurface, such as tight reservoirs, high pressure and temperature, challenging gas quality and/or low pressure. Export options, cost level and future gas prices will also affect which resources can be developed.
Lack of gas infrastructure capacity is an issue in the Barents Sea, since Melkøya is fully booked until after 2040. Here, there is clearly a need for coordination and new capacity in order to transport and export the gas.