Debate over Norwegian offshore oil and gas estimates

tanker1A new report from Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has estimated that there are nearly NOK 500 billion (USD 90 million) worth of untapped gas and oil resources off Northern Norwegian shores, but not everyone agrees on the maths.

The study from the NDP suggests that the amount of recoverable resources that exist on the continental shelf and the coastal declivity of Troms and Nordland counties is worth the equivalent of 202 million standard cubic metres of oil – around 1.3 billion barrels. This figure is significantly less than earlier estimates from the NPD which cited the amount of oil as 1.5 billion barrels.

However, the Statoil-led oil industry maintains that the true figure is closer to 2-3 billion barrels. Statoil director Hege Marie Norheim said there is no evidence compelling them to readjust estimates, but that in spite of the conflicting numbers, the development of the area was still a priority.

The NPD report acknowledged inconsistencies in the estimates, but stated that time will reduce the uncertainties as the exploration uncovers more reliable data. According to the Norway Post, the report is now being used by the Norwegian government to deliberate whether or not to move ahead with exploratory drilling.

Within the coalition government there is strong disagreement over the issue of exploration, with both the Socialist Left and Agrarian parties opposed to the move. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Labour Party said that it would wait until a major study of the potential consequences of gas and oil production in the vulnerable waters is completed before committing to a decision.

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