Resource report 2018 - Exploration


Preface by exploration director Torgeir Stordal

Production of oil and gas from the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) is expected to rise over the next few years. This increase reflects contributions from discoveries under development as well as output growth from fields already on stream. Production from these sources will begin to decline from the mid-2020s, and resources which have still to be discovered will start making their mark.

Introduction and summary

Substantial remaining resources on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) continue to offer big opportunities in both mature and less-explored areas. Increased knowledge, better data coverage, new working methods and innovative technology open new exploration opportunities and can yield a number of commercial discoveries. The companies must explore and discover more in order to maintain activity and production over time.

Exploration on the NCS

Exploration is influenced by such factors as expected prospectivity, available acreage, the regulatory framework, costs and the level of oil and gas prices. A long-running increase in activity which began in 2006 ended in 2016 after a substantial drop in oil prices. While 56 exploration wells were drilled in 2015, the annual figure for 2016 and 2017 was 36. However, 40-50 are expected in 2018.

Undiscovered resources

Updating the estimate for undiscovered resources shows that the amount remaining provides the basis for exploration and oil and gas production over several decades to come.

Profitability of exploration

Exploration has contributed substantial value to Norwegian society over the past decade, and has been profitable in all sea areas. The NPD has calculated the profitability of exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) over the past decade. The analysis shows that this activity has been profitable in all areas and has contributed substantial value to Norwegian society.

Player picture in the exploration phase

A broad variety of players creates competition and different play and prospect concepts, which promote efficiency and value creation. Even though the number of players has declined somewhat since 2013, diversity remains high in the exploration phase.

New exploration technology and work processes

Better data, increased knowledge and innovative technology reduce risk and create value. Finding oil and gas deposits is becoming increasingly difficult. Technological advances have provided better data and improved tools, contributing to new understanding of the geology and making it possible to identify new play and prospect concepts. That could help to reduce exploration risk and make further discoveries.

Exploration look-back analyses

Exploration is a learning process. The oil industry is known to overestimate the volume in prospects and understate the probability of success. This has been confirmed by the NPD’s analyses. The sector has long been working to achieve more accurate estimates.

Resources for the future: Seabed minerals and gas hydrates

The Norwegian continental shelf – more than oil and gas. The increased attention being paid to producing energy with a low carbon footprint is expected to boost demand for gas and renewables. Developments with renewable energy sources and battery technology call for access to substantial quantities of minerals with rare-earth elements (REEs).