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At a time when most of the news in the North Sea is about exits – ExxonMobil has just sold its unoperated upstream assets in Norway and ConocoPhillips has departed the UK section of the North Sea – there are still sparks of brightness in this long-mined offshore area. Equinor’s Johan Sverdrup field which contains some 2.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent has started up, two months ahead of schedule and US$4.3 billion below original cost estimates.
When it hits peak production, this new ‘North Sea giant’ will produce up to 660,000 b/d of crude oil, accounting for a third of all oil production in Norway. When complete, the Johan Sverdrup development will be one of the largest in the Norwegian Continental Shelf. It is a shot in the arm that Norway’s industry needs right now. Equinor has had a good track record in making new discoveries over the past two years, but they all mainly small and cannot outweigh declining production elsewhere. John Sverdrup is very different. Discovered in 2010, Johan Sverdrup straddles two separate production licences, discovered as Avaldsnes by Lundin Petroleum and Aldous Major South by Equinor and the field was renamed to its current form in 2012. Equinor holds a 42.6% stake in the field, with Lundin Norway, Petoro, Aker BP and Total constituting the rest.
The project has been championed as a model of the lower-cost, innovative thinking approach that the Norwegian upstream has taken since the 2014 downturn of the oil and gas industry. With first oil already flowing, it will help reverse the steady decline in Norwegian oil production, which fell to 1.65 million b/d in August, down 3.9% m-o-m and down from the all-time peak of 3.4 million b/d in 2011. Prudence paid off; green-lit in 2015, Equinor and its partners managed to secure significant discounts on services and equipment, resulting a break-even cost of less than US$20/b. The location of John Sverdrup is also crucial; believing the Norwegian Continental Shelf to be fully explored, activity has shifted to the Barents Sea. But though there are some big fields in the Barents coming onstream, exploration there has generally underperformed. So the field has been seen as a cause for hope, discovered in a mature basin 160km from Stavanger that was thought to be completely tapped out
Interestingly, John Sverdrup also has wider implications beyond the oil industry. With production set to reach 440,000 b/d by mid-2020, it will contribute about US$100 billion to the Norwegian state coffers over 50 years. It will inject additional fuel into the Norwegian Oil Fund – the country’s sovereign wealth fund – that recently decided to jettison upstream oil stocks (while keeping downstream oil stocks). This illustrates a dichotomy: while Norway as a whole is supportive of clean energy, oil & gas remains a crucial backbone of the country’s economy. So while the conversation around the North Sea will still centre around decommissioning and departures, Johan Sverdrup is proof that there are still (big) pockets of opportunity underneath these cold waters.
Canada is one of the world’s top energy producers and is a principal source of U.S. energy imports.
Petroleum and other liquids
Canada’s oil sands have significantly contributed to the recent and expected future growth in the world’s liquid fuel supply, and they comprise most of the country’s proved oil reserves, which rank third globally.Reserves
Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of dry natural gas and is the source of most U.S. natural gas imports.Reserves
As government policy attempts to lower domestic coal consumption, up to 50% of Canada’s coal production is exported.Reserves
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 30 September 2019 – Brent: US$59/b; WTI: US$54/b
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