In the 50 years since Norwegian petroleum activities began, about 49 per cent of the estimated total recoverable resources on the continental shelf have been produced and sold. This indicates that there is also a potential for a high activity level on the shelf for the next 50 years.
In 2020, Norway produced 226.4 million Sm³ of marketable oil equivalents (Sm³ o.e.), which is a six per cent increase compared with last year’s production of 214 million Sm³. By comparison, total production in the record year of 2004 was 264.2 million Sm³ o.e..
In 2020, oil production increased by 20 per cent compared to 2019. The reason is the Johan Sverdrup field, which started production in October 2019.During 2020, start-up of production and the capacity of the production facility have exceeded expectations.
As a result of the extraordinary situation related to covid-19 and the decrease in demand for oil, the Norwegian authorities decided to implement reductions in crude oil production in order to contribute to a faster stabilization of the oil market.
Gas production was three per cent lower in 2020 than in 2019. Total sales of gas amounted to 112.3 billion Sm³ (110.1 billion Sm³ 40 megajoules of gas). In 2020, natural gas accounted for just under 50 per cent of the total production measured in oil equivalents. The main reason for the decline is lower demand for gas in Europe because of the pandemic.
Historical production figures and production forecasts split by product type are shown in the figure below.
Historical and expected production in Norway, 1970-2025
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 2030, distributed by maturity of the resources.
Production history and forecast distributed per resource category, 2015-2030
Source: Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (Gas is normalized at 40 MJ)