​Norwegian oil and gas companies to stabilize production by drilling more exploration wells in 2024

Norwegian oil and gas companies will drill more exploration wells this year as the country seeks to maintain its position as a key oil and gas supplier to Europe.

Between 40 and 50 wells are expected to be completed, up from 34 last year, the Norwegian Offshore Directorate said Thursday. More than half of the 23 wildcat wells undertaken last year found hydrocarbons, it said.

Norway become Europe’s top supplier of natural gas in 2022, replacing Russian flows that were cut following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It now contributes about a quarter of the continent’s gas and will likely remain a key supplier as European countries use it as a transition fuel amid a green push.

The country aims to keep oil and gas production stable in the coming years, the directorate said, with investments in ongoing field developments forecast to hit a record high of 77 billion kroner ($7.5 billion) this year.

There were 92 fields operating and 27 projects under development last year, according to the directorate. Unplanned outages and prolonged maintenance work weighed on natural gas production during summer months, before rebounding to a record monthly volume exported in December.

While exploration continues to target areas adjacent to or near existing infrastructure — helping to keep costs and emissions down — companies should also focus on places they’re less familiar with, the directorate said.

Oil production rose to 104 MMboed in 2023, from 97.8 MMboed a year earlier. Natural gas output dropped about 5%.