Smiles for Big Arctic oil

Oil and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe smiles and points at the new promissing petroleum areas offshore eastern Finnmark near Norway's border to Russia in the Barents Sea. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

“Northern Norway is now seriously positioning itself as Norway’s next oil province,” says Oil and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe as new survey unveils that the formerly disputed southeastern Barents Sea likely holds 1.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent.


“This is great news for Norway. These increased resources represent a huge value for the Norwegian society,” says Ola Borten Moe after it Wednesday became clear that about 1.9 billion b.o.e. could be exploited in the southeastern Barents Sea.

The study presented by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) says the Norwegian part of the formerly disputed sea area with Russia most likely contains most gas, but also some oil. The estimates are based on two seasons with active seismic mapping of the area. 

The mapped area in the southeastern Barents Sea along the Russian border constitutes about 44,000 square kilometers. 

Petroleum businesses in the north could smile together with the minister when reading the facts in the study.

“This is very exciting. The results presented today prove that the southeastern Barents Sea is the by far the most interesting new area on the Norwegian continental shelf,” says Geir Seljeseth, Communications manager with the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association to BarentsObserver.

He underlines that it is important to be patient. “From today’s report to possible exploration will take quite some time. But when the exploration start it will surely give economic ripple effects for local municipalities and businesses in the north,” says Geir Seljeseth.

In the resource analysis for the southeastern Barents Sea, the NPD assessed the probability of discovering oil and gas in various geological areas. The Bjarmeland Platform furthest north and the Fedinsky High in the east are considered to be pure gas provinces, while the Nordkapp Basin, Tiddlybank Basin and Finnmark Platform are considered to be combined oil and gas provinces.

On the Fedinsky High, there is a possibility of petroleum deposits that span across the border between Norway and Russia.

Norway and Russia announced the delimitation deal for the disputed part of the Barents Sea in 2010 after the question had been unsolved for the last 40 years. The treaty stipulates how Norway and Russia should share and exploit cross-border reservoirs.

In the opened part of the Barents Sea and the northern Barents Sea, the expected figure for undiscovered resources is 960 million Sm3 o.e. This is equal to 37 per cent of the undiscovered resources on the Norwegian shelf. The new resource estimates for the southeastern Barents Sea increase the estimate of total undiscovered resources in the area by about one-third, and strengthen the Barents Sea’s significance for Norwegian petroleum activities.