Barents Sea Oil / Gas License Blocks and Fields – Norway – 2012 Map

Norway Barents Sea Active License Block Map

Above is a map of the Barents Sea, Norway.  Active and inactive production licensing blocks are shown along with the illustrated Norway – Russia maritime delimitation agreement that entered into force on the 7th of July, 2011.

Norwegian Production Licensing Rounds – Currently in Round 22

The next licensing change, with the exclusion of relinquishments and share transfers, will take place in Q1 of 2013 as Norway awards production licenses as part of the 2012 APA (Awards in Predefined Areas), for which the application deadline is the 6th of September, 2012.  The APA round applies to mature sections of the continental shelf that are both understood geologically and situated near developed infrastructure.

The succeeding change will take place in mid-2013 as the Norwegian Government awards new production licenses for the general 22nd licensing round, for which the application deadline is the 4th of December, 2012.

For a licensing round history dating back to 2000, visit ‘Licensing Rounds on the Norwegian Continental Shelf‘ from the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.

Fields – Oil, Gas, and Condensate

Snøhvit – Discovered in 1984 and on stream in August, of 2007, Snøhvit is the only developed field within the Barents Sea, Norway.  The field encompasses seven different production licenses, and is lumped in with two other deposits, the Askeladd and Albatross structures.  Gas from the Snøhvit field is piped through a pipeline (see map) to the Melkøya Island LNG liquefaction plant in Hammerfest, Norway.  The resultant liquid natural gas (LNG) is transported to markets around the world via LNG tankers.

  • Under sound production levels, a loaded 150,000 m3 LNG tanker will depart from Hammerfest every 5 to 6 days.
  • Separated CO2 is transferred back to the Snøhvit field to be re-injected into a porous sandstone layer called the Tubåen formation located 2.5km below the seabed.  It is worth noting that this carbon capture program is being financed, in part, by the EU as all is carefully being monitored to assess the viability of similar projects for the future.
  • As of 31.12.2010, recoverable reserves were estimated to be 149.8 billion sm3 gas, 5.8 million tonnes natural gas liquids (NGL)*, and 16.1 million sm3 gas condensate.
  • Ownership – Statoil (36.79% operating share), Petoro (30% share), Total E&P Norge (18.4% share), Gaz de France (12% share), and RWE Dea (2.81% share)

Goliat is currently being developed with production set to begin in Q4 of 2013.

  • Recoverable oil reserves are estimated to be 28 million Sm3 (174 million barrels), while recoverable gas reserves are estimated to be 8 billion Sm3.  Field life is estimated to be 15 years.
  • Ownership – Eni Norge AS (65% operating share), and Statoil Petroleum AS (35% share)

*Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) are mixtures of liquid hydrocarbons such as butane, condensate, ethane, and propane.  This is not to be confused with Liquid Natural Gas (LNG).

Sources

  • Statoil – Snøhvit – http://www.statoil.com/en/OurOperations/ExplorationProd/ncs/snoehvit/Pages/default.aspx
  • Norwegian Petroleum Directorate – Snøhvit – 04, July, 2011 – http://www.npd.no/Templates/OD/Article.aspx?id=3779&epslanguage=en
  • Ministry of Petroleum and Energy – Licensing Rounds of the Norwegian Continental Shelf – http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/oed/Subject/Oil-and-Gas/licensing-rounds-on-the-norwegian-contin.html?id=481292

Map Sources

  • Norwegian Petroleum Directorate – Production License Block Information – July, 2012 – http://www.npd.no/

New Study on Arctic Polar Bear Health and PCBs – Norway

We all know that the Arctic sea ice has been receding, and is projected, according to many sources, to continue this trend into the foreseeable future.   This phenomenon has the potential to decrease the habitable land that polar bears require for denning, along with the ground from which they are able to hunt.  There is, however, some good news that has surfaced as a result of one study put together by 5 scientists, headed by J. Bytingsvik of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim (NTNU), Norway.  The study looked at the prevalence of PCBs in the polar bears of Svalbard, Norway.

Above Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Contaminants have been accumulating in the Arctic for a long time and eventually make their way into the bodies of various Arctic animals.  PCBs are no exception as they have made their way up to the Arctic through various air streams.  These compounds are reported to have the ability to travel for days before they are broken down by sunlight, or come down to the earth’s surface by way of rain or snow.

From the US Environmental Protection Agency,

PCBs were domestically manufactured from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in the United States in 1979 and throughout the world as per the 2004 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.  PCBs have been shown to cause cancer in animals.  PCBs have also been shown to cause a number of serious non-cancerous health effects in animals, including effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system, and other health effects.  Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point, and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications.

Bytingsvik’s Study (link at bottom)

The study, available as of January, of 2012 from the NTNU website looks at the plasma concentrations and prevalence of PCBs and hydroxylated PCB-metabolites (OH-PCBs) in mother polar bears and their 4 month old cubs from Svalbard, Norway.  In a nutshell, the study compared the concentrations of PCBs in these bears between the sampling years of 1997/1998, and 2008.  The study also looked at the propensity of mothers to transfer these compounds to their cubs through milk, and while still in the womb.

From Bytingsvik’s publication,

Plasma levels of PCBs and OH-PCBs in polar bears mothers and their suckling cubs were found to be significantly lower in 2008 when compared with results from 1997/1998.

She did however find that,

the levels of PCBs and OH-PCBs in cubs from 2008 were still above levels associated with health effects in humans and wildlife.

Studies have also been done in the past on the human ramifications of PCB exposure specific to our developmental stages.

Human infants that have been exposed to PCBs and OH-PCBs prenatally have shown lower birth weights, smaller head circumferences and alterations to thyroid hormone homeostasis.  Exposed children have also been shown to alter neural development, cognitive, motor, and learning abilities.

All in all, it shows that the global effort to reduce PCB pollutants has had a significant effect.  This is one matter that should lead the way for more positive-outcome thinking as it pertains to our global efforts to reduce the prevalence of harmful contaminants.

Sources

  • PCBs and OH-PCBs in polar bear mother–cub pairs: A comparative study based on plasma levels in 1998 and 2008 – 21/Jan/2012 – http://www.ntnu.edu/documents/139226/8932977/Bytingsviketal.pdf
  • Stockhold Convention – http://chm.pops.int/Home/tabid/2121/mctl/ViewDetails/EventModID/871/EventID/230/xmid/6921/Default.aspx
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) – Basic Information – http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/tsd/pcbs/pubs/about.htm

Coal Mining in Svalbard – Store Norske & Arktikugol – Norway

Svalbard Map with Operating Mining Companies Norway

With only a population of 2,753, 423 of those being either Russian or Ukrainian, Svalbard is what is referred to as Norway’s Arctic archipelago of islands.  According to the Svalbard Act of 1925, Svalbard is established as both a free economic zone, and a demilitarized zone.  The economy relies mainly on the coal production of two mining companies.  One Russian, one Norwegian.  The map above displays the property claims of the mining companies operating in Svalbard.

Store Norske  Spitsbergen Kulkompani AS (SNSK) – The Norwegian state-owned mining company fully owns the following 3 subsidiaries.

  • Store Norske Spitsbergen Grubekompani AS (SNSG)- Owns properties that encompass an area of approx. 2000 sq. kilometers within Svalbard.  Operates the Svea Nord coal mine, along with the Gruve 7 coal mine.  Measured coal reserves and probable resources in 2010 were measured to be 20.4 and 3.5 million tonnes respectively.  Coal sales in 2010 and 2009 were 1.7 and 2.5 million tonnes respectively.  In 2010, 1.5% of coal was kept in Svalbard for energy use, where 53% of coal was exported to Germany.
  • Store Norske Boliger AS – Manages Store Norske owned lodgings which are rented out to company employees.
  • Store Norske Gull AS – Gold, nickel, and PGM operations in Troms and Finnmark.

Arktikugol – This Russian state-owned coal mining company operates an area of 251 sq. kilometers in which the mainly Russian and Ukrainian settlement Barentsburg (Баренцбург) is located.  Russia currently works to increase its presence within Svalbard by improving the living conditions of those that work there, supporting economic growth, and attracting Russian and foreign investments.  The company is heavily subsidized by The Russian Federation.  Arktikugol consists of 3 parts.

  • Barentsburg Mine – Coal reserves are estimated to measure 2 million tonnes. Most Barentsburg coal is exported to Denmark, Portugal, and Spain.
  • Grumant Coal Field – This undeveloped field is assumed to hold coal reserves of approx. 30 million tonnes.
  • Pyramiden – Abandoned in 1998, the mining settlement used to be home to over 1000 people.

Climate-Gas Emissions – One would assume that a micro-economy based off of coal production would yield significant climate gas emissions such as CO2, methane, and SO2.  From the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, we have the following climate gas data for Svalbar for 2007.  Emissions are quite obviously a strong function of local mining industry dynamics and thus vary from year to year.

  • CO2 – 424,787 tons, 42% of which comes from coal-based energy production.  International marine cruise traffic accounts for 15%, marine coal transport from Svalbard to other countries accounts for 13%,  marine cruise/research vessels account for 8%.
  • SO2 – 1,255 tons, 91% of which comes from coal-based energy production.
  • Methane – 3400 tons, 98% of which comes from coal production.

In addition to mining activities, the tourism industry provides economic support, along with the two major research facilities located near the town of Longyearbyen which are listed below.

  • University Centre in Svalbard – Norwegian state-owned university focusing on Arctic studies.
  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault – Commonly referred to by conspirators as the global doomsday seed vault, the Global Seed Vault is a store of plant seeds that are to be a form of insurance against a major global crisis.  Many different organizations provide funding for the operation which include the government of Norway, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sources

  • Store Norske 2010 Annual Report – http://www.snsk.no/getfile.php/1669680.1589.qrrvvcscua/AR_2010.pdf
  • Арктикуголь Шпицберген – http://www.arcticugol.ru/
  • Klima OG Forurensnings Direktoratet – Climate Influencing Emissions, Scenarios and Mitigation Options at Svalbard – http://www.klif.no/publikasjoner/2552/ta2552.pdf
  • The University Centre in Svalbard – http://www.unis.no/

Statoil to drill Skrugard in January, 2012

Located about 230 km’s north of Norway and believed to contain approx. 250 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalent, Statoil’s Skrugard field is under the radar.  Specifically, appraisal drilling will begin on the field in late January.  Statoil holds an operating interest in the field of 50 percent, with Eni and Petoro holding 30 and 20 percent respectively.

Statoil seems to favour establishing a large floating production complex in the region in order to increase processing capacities and flows from other nearby prospects.  This decision, however, will be dependent on the soon-to-be-released Havis drill results.  The nearby Havis prospect (7 km from Skrugard) is being drilled by the semi-submersible Aker Barents rig.  Upon completion, late January, the rig will be mobilized in order to begin appraisal drilling at Skrugard.

All in all, there will be many challenges due to the large distance from shore, lack of available export infrastructure, and the fact that this is taking place in a relatively unexplored area.