Norway sees rapid growth in oil output from 30-year lows

Equinor says the Johan Sverdrup oil field, situated some 140 km off the southwestern coast of Norway, is expected to remain in production for at least half a century. (AFP)
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Updated 10 January 2020

Norway sees rapid growth in oil output from 30-year lows

  • By 2023, combined production of oil and gas is expected to reach close to record level

STAVANGER: Norway’s oil output will grow by 43 percent from 2019 to 2024 as new fields come on stream and older production facilities are upgraded, forecasts from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) showed on Thursday.

The numbers show a revival for Norwegian crude production, which last year fell to its lowest level since 1989 as older fields gradually depleted their reserves.

By 2023, combined output of oil and gas is expected to reach close to the record level seen in 2004, the agency said, although gas would have a greater share than before.

“This time oil will account for about half of the total,” NPD chief Ingrid Soelvberg told a news conference.

Crude output from the country’s offshore fields is now predicted to hit 2.02 million barrels per day in 2024, up from a 30-year low of 1.41 million last year, as major oilfields Sverdrup and Castberg gradually come on stream.

“After two years of lower output, production will rise again in 2020, mainly due to the startup of Johan Sverdrup but also due to other finds,” Soelvberg said.

Natural gas production is predicted to rise to 117.1 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2020 from 113.2 bcm in 2019, but below a previous forecast of 120.2 bcm, it added.

The NPD now expects Norway’s oil output to total 1.76 million barrels per day in 2020, up from a previous forecast of 1.74 million made a year ago.

While exploration increased in 2019, to 57 wells from 53 the previous year, it will likely decline to 50 wells in 2020, the NPD said.

Exploration in the Barents Sea in the Arctic brought only one discovery last year, an area that once had been expected to be a new oil and gas province for the Nordic country.

State-controlled Equinor and its partners earlier on Thursday announced plans to further extend production from their Statfjord field, which has been producing since the 1970s and is now expected to remain on stream beyond 2040.

While Norway supports the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and aims to sharply reduce its domestic carbon emissions in the coming decades, it also says it will continue to pump and sell petroleum to others for as long as demand exists.

The Sverdrup field is expected to remain in production for at least a half century, according to Equinor’s plan. 


Cyprus sets stage for tourism recovery as airports reopen

Updated 07 June 2020

Cyprus sets stage for tourism recovery as airports reopen

  • Mediterranean holiday island tempts visitors with bold hospitality package that includes medical care

NICOSIA: Cyprus will reopen for international tourism on Tuesday, with airports welcoming visitors after an almost three-month shutdown, and a bold plan to cover health-care costs for visitors.

But with arrivals expected to be down by 70 percent this year due to the chaos brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a leap of faith for the small Mediterranean holiday island.

“Nobody here is expecting to make any money this year,” Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios said. “We are setting the stage for the beginning of our recovery in 2021.”

The divided island’s tourism sector normally accounts for around 15 percent of gross domestic product, but has dried up in past months amid global measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Cyprus saw a record 3.97 million arrivals in 2019, with more than half its market made up of British and Russian visitors.

But even if the island’s airports in Larnaca and Paphos open up to arrivals on Tuesday, with the first flight due to arrive from Athens around noon, neither Britain or Russia are among the 19 countries allowed to land there.

The list of permitted countries, which also include Bulgaria, Germany and Malta, have been chosen based on epidemiological data and split into two categories.

Initially all travellers will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test undertaken within 72 hours of travel, but from June 20, only those arriving from six countries in the second category, such as Poland and Romania, will need to do so.

The government says the lists will be revised weekly and more countries can be added.

Cyprus will also cover accommodation, dining and medical care for any tourists who fall ill with the COVID-19 illness during their stay, as well as accommodation and meals for their families and close contacts.

“What we offer and what we sell is not the sun and the sea, it’s hospitality, and this is an extension of our hospitality,” Perdios said.

The government has designated a 100-bed COVID-19 hospital for tourists that Perdios said would be located in the Larnaca region, while 112 ICU units have been allocated for visitors.

Perdios said several four-star hotels would provide 500 quarantine rooms for close contacts of those who fall ill.

A raft of other health measures, including disinfection protocols and temperature checks at border controls, aim to protect travellers and locals alike.

“We’ve gone to big lengths to think ahead of things that could go wrong and try to devise plan Bs and Cs”, Perdios said.

The Republic of Cyprus, in the south of the island, has registered 960 novel coronavirus cases and 17 deaths.

Perdios expressed hope that British tourists could be welcomed “sometime after mid-July”, with Russia “slightly later, maybe by a couple of weeks.”

A recently announced deal with Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air to open a base in Cyprus from July was also an important step towards expanding and diversifying the island’s tourist markets, he said.

While no date has been set to allow international tourists to visit the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognised by Ankara, the health-care commitment would still apply to those visiting the north during their stay once the crossings are reopened.

“I am very confident that not only will we be able to continue providing our citizens with protection, but also caring for everybody who comes to the island on holiday”, he said.

“If we are coming out with a scheme like this, it’s because we can afford it, but most importantly, because we feel that it’s the right thing to do.”