In the 50 years since the start of Norway’s petroleum activities, about 50 per cent of the estimated total recoverable resources on the continental shelf is produced and sold. This indicates that there is also a potential for a high activity level on the shelf for the coming 50 years.
In 2021, Norway produced 231 million Sm³ of marketable oil equivalents (Sm³ o.e.), which is a two per cent increase compared with last year’s production of 226.5 million Sm³. By comparison, total production in the record year of 2004 was 264.2 million Sm³ o.e.
Oil production in 2021 continued to increase. The main reason for the increase is production start-up from Johan Sverdrup field in October 2019. During 2021, it has been confirmed that the capacity of the production facility is higher than previously assumed. Gas production was three per cent higher in 2021 than in 2020. Total sales of gas amounted to 115 billion Sm³ (113 billion Sm³ 40 megajoules of gas). In 2021, natural gas accounted for just under 50 per cent of the total production measured in oil equivalents. The increase is mainly due to high demand for gas in Europe, and gas prices that reached an all-time high.
Historical production figures and production forecasts split by product type are shown in the figure below.
Historical and expected production in Norway, 1970-2026
Source: Norwegian Petroleum Directorate
The production profile of a typical oil field shows a rapid increase to a maximum production rate, then a stable period of production (the plateau phase) followed by a gradual decline in production. Without further investments, oil production will decline rapidly, and even with considerable investment to improve recovery, it can be difficult to maintain production from a field.
Without new fields or large-scale investments on existing fields, oil production from the Norwegian shelf would continue to decline. Given the high level of development activity on the shelf in recent years, oil production is expected to continue to increase during the coming years. Production from new fields that come on stream will in the short run compensate for the decline in production from aging fields. The future production level over time is uncertain. It depends, for example, on which initiatives are implemented on the fields, discoveries that are decided to be developed, and when they come on stream. New discoveries in the future, how large they are, and how and when they are developed will also affect the production level over time.
The figure below shows total historical production and production forecasts until 2031, distributed by maturity of the resources.
Production history and forecast distributed per resource category, 2017-2031
Source: Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (Gas is normalized at 40 MJ)