The Shelf in 2023: Robust activity and major investments


11/01/2024 2023 was an active year on the Norwegian shelf. 92 fields were in operation at year-end, 27 projects were under development and many exploration wells were drilled.

Production was somewhat lower in 2023 than was expected a year ago. This is largely due to unplanned and extended maintenance shutdowns at multiple onshore facilities and fields.

The consequences for gas production were greatest during the summer months, when demand was lower. Production resumed full force starting from early autumn, with November and December being particularly good months for gas export.

Preliminary figures for December indicate a new export record for a single month, with just under 12 billion standard cubic metres gas.

The high activity level seen in 2023 will continue through 2024.

The Norwegian shelf will continue to play an extremely important role for energy security in Europe for many years to come.

Many investment decisions were made in 2022 for projects that were approved by the authorities last year. 27 projects are currently under development, contributing to robust activity in the supplier industry.

This shows that the temporary tax regime change adopted in 2020 has had a very positive effect for the Norwegian supplier industry.

As a consequence of high development activity, oil and gas production is expected to remain stable for the next few years. Over the short term, the new fields coming on stream will offset lower production from ageing fields.

Compared with forecasts presented in The Shelf last year, we see a relatively large increase in investments for 2023 and 2024.

This is a result of factors such as high activity levels in the industry, a weaker Norwegian currency and cost growth. Certain projects have accelerated investments and several fields have gained extended lifetimes and must therefore invest in upgrades.

34 exploration wells were spudded in 2023. 23 of these were wildcat wells, where 14 discoveries were made.

It’s important that exploration be conducted around existing infrastructure so discoveries can be tied back and create value while the fields are still in operation.

Nevertheless, the Norwegian Offshore Directorate would like to see companies exploring actively in more frontier areas. In order to realise more of the resource potential, companies must to a greater degree commit to testing new ideas in frontier areas.

There is still significant interest in the annual awards in predefined areas (APA). 25 companies applied for new acreage in APA 2023.

Interest in storing CO2 on the Norwegian shelf continues to increase. Based on its own work, the Directorate has previously demonstrated a considerable potential for safe storage of CO2 on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Six exploration licences have been awarded since 2020. These will now be explored and several companies are now looking at projects aimed at establishing value chains for capturing CO2, transport from Europe and storage on the Norwegian shelf.

It will be important for the Norwegian Offshore Directorate to facilitate the award of more exploration licences where CO2 can be stored, in sound coexistence with petroleum activities and other offshore industries.

On 9 January, the Storting (Norwegian parliament) endorsed the Government’s proposal to open parts of the Norwegian continental shelf for mineral activity. A final resolution will be made in the form of a Royal Decree.

This means that commercial players can now contribute to clarify the existence of commercially attractive mineral resources, and whether such resources can be recovered in a sustainable manner.

A process will now be initiated to announce and award licences pursuant to the Seabed Minerals Act.

At the same time, it will be important to continue the Norwegian state’s work to map resources and the environment.

Read fact and figures here


Ola Anders Skauby

Director Communication, public affairs and emergency response

Tel: +47 905 98 519

Updated: 11/01/2024

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