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. 


‘Eat out to help out,’ finance chief tells UK

Updated 05 July 2020

‘Eat out to help out,’ finance chief tells UK

  • Minister’s plea as England reopens hospitality sector after three-month lockdown

LONDON: Britain’s finance minister urged people on Saturday to “eat out to help out” as the UK attempts to claw its way back from a historic economic decline sparked by the coronavirus crisis.

The comments by Chancellor Rishi Sunak were published on the day England finally reopened its hospitality sector after more than three months of lockdown.

Britain’s shutdown has been one of Europe’s longest because of an official toll — 44,131 — that only trails those of the US and Brazil.

Sunak said the closures have been especially painful for Britain because consumption makes up about two-third of its gross domestic product. “That’s more than most of our peers,” he told The Times newspaper.

“So we have a situation like this, with social distancing we’re obviously going to be particularly impacted by that.”

Sunak said he “worried about a generation that is scarred by coronavirus” — especially younger people who see the hospitality sector as their way into the job market.

“For me this is really about social justice,” he said.

“People act responsibly, but ultimately if we eat out to help out we can protect those jobs. It’s not abstract.”

The true scale of Britain’s unemployment problem will only be revealed once the government starts winding down its jobs furlough scheme in August.

The state currently supports 80 percent of most people’s wages. But jobless claims still surged 126 percent to 2.8 million in the three months to May.

Sunak will make an economic statement to parliament next week that will be watched closely for signs of how much support the government intends to give businesses in the future.

The government is running up debts, but interests rates are low and borrowing costs remain at a historic low.

The Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane created waves this week by predicting a “V-shaped” recovery that will see old levels of performance return soon.

However, Sunak was less certain of a rapid economic rebound.

“We all want Andy to be right,” he said.

“But we have got to be realistic as well. You can’t shut down your economy in the way that we have for this many months without there being hardship as a result.”