Oil and gas resources are discovered, and discoveries are developed as fields if they are economically and technologically viable, and the oil and gas is produced and sold. This results in dynamic resource accounts that change from year to year. Resources is a general term for all oil and gas that can be recovered. Resources are classified according to maturity, which measures how far along they are in the planning process leading to production. The primary classifications are reserves, contingent resources and undiscovered resources. Read more about the resource classification system.
The Norwegian Offshore Directorate's resource accounts as per 31 Dec. 2023 show that the overall resource volume (including what has been sold and delivered) on the Norwegian shelf is about 15.6 Sm³ billion (GSm³) of oil equivalents (o.e.). This is a reduction of 191 million Sm³ (MSm³) of o.e. in 2023 compared with the previous year, and is the largest reduction since 2010. The proven resources have increased by 93 MSm³ of o.e. compared with 2022.
Total recoverable petroleum resources on the Norwegian continental shelf as of 31.12.2023
Oil and condensate are listed in million standard cubic metres (Sm³). NGL is listed in million tonnes, and gas is listed in billion standard cubic metres. The conversion factor for NGL in tonnes to Sm³ is 1.9. Total oil equivalents are listed in million Sm³ o.e., 1000 Sm³ gas = 1 Sm³ o.e.
Source: Norwegian Offshore Directorate
55 per cent of the expected recoverable resources on the shelf have been produced, and 22 per cent of the overall resources have yet to be proven. Download all tables associated with the Resource accounts for the Norwegian shelf as per 31 Dec. 2023 and the report for this year's resource accounts from the Norwegian Offshore Directorate's website.
In the Norwegian Offshore Directorate’s resource classification system, oil and gas resources transition into reserves once the operator has submitted a plan for development and operation (PDO) or decided to implement a measure optimising recovery that does not require a PDO. Discoveries are classified as fields once an approved plan for development is available. There are currently more than 100 fields in production, under development, or with plans for redevelopment. The Troll and Johan Sverdrup fields have the largest remaining reserves on the Norwegian shelf, with 605 billion Sm3 of gas and 226 million Sm3 of oil, respectively.
The overall remaining reserves amount to 950 MSm³ of oil and 1366 GSm³ of gas. This year's resource accounts show a slight growth in gross reserves, that means reserves before the total production is subtracted. The growth in gross oil reserves is 6 MSm3 and in gross gas reserves 17 GSm3. Total production in 2023 was 233 MSm3 o.e.
Fifteen new discoveries were made in 2023. Twelve of the discoveries were made in the North Sea, two in the Norwegian Sea and one in the Barents Sea. At the end of 2023, the discovery portfolio consisted of 79 discoveries. Of these discoveries, the largest are 7324/8-1 (Wisting) in the Barents Sea, 6406/9-1 Linnorm in the Norwegian Sea and 35/2-1 (Peon) in the North Sea.
A low number of PDOs and PDO exemption applications were submitted in 2023. This also explains the modest increase in reserves compared with the previous Resource Accounts.
Contingent resources are proven oil and gas for which a production decision has not yet been made. Petroleum volumes in potential improved recovery projects are included in this category. The growth in the contingent resources category comes from both new discoveries and from changed resource estimates and new opportunities in fields and discoveries. Decisions are made every year to develop some of the contingent resources. They are then transitioned over to the reserves category.
At year-end, the contingent oil resources in fields were 356 MSm³, which is an increase of 16 MSm³ from the previous year. Contingent gas resources amounted to 291 GSm³, and this is an increase of 31 GSm³ compared with the previous year. The increase is related to several future projects under consideration by the licensees.
Contingent resources in discoveries amount to 261 MSm³ of oil and 233 GSm³ of gas. The total volume for undeveloped discoveries has been increased by 23 MSm3 of o.e. compared with last year's accounts. This increase results from exploration activity in 2023.
Undiscovered resources are volumes of petroleum that we assume could be recovered from deposits not yet proven through drilling. The estimates for undiscovered resources in areas opened for petroleum activities are updated on an annual basis. The update is based on assessments taking into consideration the previous year's exploration results, new studies, as well as relevant information from the companies.
Undiscovered resources are estimated at 3.5 billion Sm3 of o.e., which is a reduction of 285 MSm3 of o.e. compared with the previous year. Unproven resources make up about 22 per cent of the overall remaining resources on the Norwegian continental shelf. For more detailed estimates and distribution of undiscovered resources in each sea area, see the article Resources per sea area.