Exploration for hydrocarbons on the Norwegian continental shelf began in 1965. The first commercial discovery (Ekofisk), made in 1969, led to first production of hydrocarbons in 1971. Subsequently, many oil and gas fields were discovered, 19 of which were in production by June 1989. Numerous fields will be developed in the next decade. It is anticipated that by mid-1990 total Norwegian oil and gas production will be about 100 million and 30 million TOE, respectively. Oil production is still growing, and gas production is expected to grow significantly from the turn of the century. Proved resources for the entire Norwegian continental shelf as of June 1989 were estimated at 5.26 billion TOE—2.16 billion TOE of oil and 3.1 billion TOE of gas. Most of these resources (60%) lie in giant fields. All the discovered giants are either in production or in the development phase. Most of them were discovered from 1978 to 1985.
Exploration costs are increasing because most of the recent discoveries are smaller than previous ones. However, exploration costs in Norway are still lower than in most other areas. The R/P (resource/production) ratios for Norway are approximately 20 for oil and 120 for gas. The remaining unproved potential of the Norwegian continental shelf is expected to be at least 4 to 5 billion TOE, of which 70% or more is anticipated to be gas. New resources will have to be found in the North Sea, offshore mid-Norway, and in the Barents Sea.
The future challenges for Norway will be to discover new oil fields, to make economically viable the smaller existing fields, to enhance oil recovery from existing fields, and to find markets for its large gas resources. Norway will remain a major oil-producing nation well into the next century, and a major gas-producing nation for a much longer period.
Editor's note: An oral presentation on the hydrocarbon potential of the Norwegian continental shelf was made at the conference in Stavanger; however, a full paper was not written. The illustrations that accompanied the oral presentation are sufficiently self-explanatory that it is appropriate to include them in this volume, along with the abstract from the conference program.
Figures & Tables
The success of Memoir 14 and the worldwide interest shown for data on giant fields prompted AAPG to schedule a symposium on giant fields at the end of each subsequent decade. The 1968-78 symposium was held in Houston, Texas, April 1-4, 1979, and the papers were published in AAPG Memoir 30, December 1980.
The Stavanger Conference "Giant Oil and Gas Fields of the Decade: 1978-1988" was held in Stavanger, Norway, September 9-12, 1990, and is a continuation of the Giants of the Decade series.
Scientific studies and projections of future world energy demand indicate that although alternative-energy fuel sources must be actively pursued and developed, there also must be adequate petroleum supplies to bridge the gap. For the international petroleum industry, the years covered by this conference, 1978-88, were complex. They were years of boom and bust. The world's energy consciousness was boosted sharply by the effects of the 1979 Iranian revolution and the resulting embargo, which sent world oil prices to record heights. Global petroleum exploration soon surged, leading to the industry's all-time drilling high in 1981. Then came the oil price collapse in 1985, and the following years were characterized by falling oil prices and drastic budget cuts for exploration and development.
Although exploration dropped sharply during the latter part of the decade, there was a steady flow of giant oil and gas field discoveries. Using the giant field designation criteria of 500 million bbl of oil recoverable for fields in Asiatic Russia, North Africa, and the Middle East,