Norway makes its first commercial gas discovery of the year

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Jan. 18 (UPI) — Norwegian energy company Equinor said Wednesday it made its first commercial natural gas discovery in its territorial waters for the year, a discovery that will extend the life of a current field by several years.

Equinor, along with state-owned Norwegian company Petoro and Germany’s Wintershall Dea, announced a natural gas discovery that’s estimated to hold between 2 billion and 11 cubic meters of recoverable reserves.

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The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the nation’s energy regulator, confirmed the discovery in the northern waters of the Norwegian Sea near the existing Irpa field. Companies there were drilling a wildcat well in an effort to find reserves in unproven areas.

Grete Haaland, a senior vice president for exploration and production at Equinor, said the find supports broader, regional gas production efforts. The new find could be connected with the infrastructure at the Irpa field, which will be tied into the larger Aasta Hansteen complex and extend its life by seven years.

“Discoveries near existing infrastructure require less volume in order to be commercially developed, and can be quickly put on stream with low CO2 emissions,” Haaland said.

Norway is a main supplier of crude oil and natural gas to the European economy, a role that’s become even more important as Europe looks to secure resources from nations other than Russia. It also powers much of its own economy on renewable resources.

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Torgeir Stordal, the general director at the NPD, said in early January that Norway has fortified itself as a long-term, predictable supplier to the European economy and productivity in 2023 should not disappoint.

The NPD has 13 new development plans to clear out and is expecting some $30 billion in investments in the sector. That could bring in even more oil and gas this year.

Much of what’s left offshore Norway is in the frigid waters of the Barents Sea, where the government sees a huge upside potential.

In December, Equinor said the first phase of operations at the Askeladd field was sending more natural gas to the Hammerfest liquefied natural gas plant on the island of Melkoya, just south of the Arctic Circle.

Hammerfest under normal conditions represents about 5% of total Norwegian natural gas exports, which is enough to satisfy the demand from about 6.5 million average European households.