Norway targets Barents Sea for new gas exports

The Heimdal Riser platform (HRP) in the North Sea is tied back to, and operated as an integrated part of, the Heimdal platform. It serves as a hub for the allocation of gas from the Oseberg Gas Transport line, as well as from Huldra, Heimdal and Vale, between Statpipe and Vesterled.

Almost two-thirds of Norway’s undiscovered gas resources are expected to lie in the Barents Sea, which underlines the importance of this area for long-term gas exports from the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

These were the words Bente Nyland, Director General of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate used in expressing her vision in a recent public statement regarding the future of Norwegian natural gas production. Her text follows:

The Aasta Hansteen gas field in the Norwegian Sea began production on Dec. 16 as the first development in the northern Norwegian Sea. At the same time, the new Polarled pipeline began carrying natural gas to Nyhamna near Ålesund for export to European customers. All this opens new opportunities in the area around Aasta Hansteen and Polarled.

In recent years, Norway has exported some 120 Bsm3 of gas worth about $23.4 billion (NOK 200 billion). Most energy forecasts show a growth in demand for gas, while declining domestic production in the EU could create an increased need for European gas imports. Were gas to replace coal in electricity generation, CO2 emissions could be halved.

In my view, this is not well communicated in Norway.

The NCS has produced more gas than oil since 2010, and that position is expected to persist.

Substantial resources, closeness to the market and an integrated and flexible transport system with low unit costs have made Norwegian gas competitive in the European market.

If the country is to maintain its gas exports from the mid-2020s, however, offshore exploration activities must be stepped up and more resources found in coming years.

The key lies in the Barents Sea, and it is important that the companies explore for gas so that resources are found which can lay the basis for new infrastructure.

We are working with Gassco to identify requirements which will allow fields, discoveries and resources yet to be found to form the basis for more export capacity from these northern waters. (OGE: Wikipedia describes Gassco is a Norwegian state owned company that operates 7,800 kilometres of natural gas pipes transporting annually of 100 billion cubic meter of natural gas from the Norwegian continental shelf to Continental Europe and Great Britain.)

After two years with few exploration wells, their number is fortunately back at more than 50/year. We hope this is a sign that such drilling has returned a new and better track – for gas as well.