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11 September 2023

North Sea Oil and Gas Industry Thrives Despite Challenges

The North Sea oil and gas industry is experiencing a period of growth and prosperity, overcoming recent challenges.

Rystad Energy, in a recent news release, highlighted the remarkable progress in Norway and the UK's oil and gas sectors, attributing it to increased investments, exploration success, and rising production.

Rystad stated, "Solid oil and gas production from the region is also providing indispensable resources to Europe and the rest of the world navigating through the energy transition."

Investments in Norway's oil and gas industry are poised to reach a record high of approximately NOK 225 billion ($21 billion) this year. This surge in investment is a result of several key projects gaining approval, driven by Norway's temporary tax regime designed to stimulate spending on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Rystad noted that total investments in the Norwegian oil and gas industry are projected to exceed the record set in 2013, demonstrating a positive development after lean years in the industry. This investment is crucial for the oilfield service sector as it undergoes a gradual transition towards alternative energy sources.

Despite a 15 percent decline in Norwegian oil and gas production since its peak in 2004, production is expected to rise by 2025. Increased focus on gas production and new projects in the pipeline are key factors in this resurgence. These efforts will also reduce Europe's reliance on Russian hydrocarbons and maintain a low CO2 footprint.

Norway is set to conduct 35 exploration wells this year, with an increase to 36 in 2024. This marks a significant recovery from lower exploration activity in recent years.

Conversely, oil and gas investments in the UK have not rebounded to the same extent as in Norway. While investments in 2023 are expected to be significantly lower than the peak in 2013, there is optimism about potential project sanctions in 2024. Up to 14 new oil and gas fields could be approved, with major projects like Rosebank, Cambo, and Clair Phase 3 in focus.

Rystad Energy's Senior Upstream Analyst Sonya Boodoo highlighted that these projects could result in substantial future investments, such as Rosebank's estimated 300 million barrels of oil production.

The offshore oil and gas sector is also experiencing substantial growth, with $214 billion in new project investments on the horizon. Notably, the Middle East is a leading driver of offshore activities, with the UK and Norway also contributing to this growth.

Rystad's data suggests that offshore spending in the UK will increase by 30 percent this year to $7 billion, while Norwegian investments will reach $21.4 billion, marking a 22 percent increase over 2022.

Lastly, Norway's record-breaking sanctioning boom on the Norwegian Continental Shelf has led to numerous greenlighted projects, resulting in significant investments and ensuring high gas production towards 2030.