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Norway to keep Johan Sverdrup crude output near 755,000 b/d after successful test

Norway’s state-controlled Equinor aims to maintain production at the country’s highest-producing oil field, Johan Sverdrup, at a new, higher level close to 755,000 b/d after testing of the facilities was successful, the company said May 23.

The 755,000 b/d level is in line with the company’s earlier hopes for the second phase of the development, which came on stream in December 2022, although it had pulled back from such a commitment and set a lower target of 720,000 b/d.

The field, discovered in 2010, now accounts for around a quarter of all North Sea oil production and has helped stabilize output in what is mostly a mature basin.

The relatively heavy, sour Sverdrup grade is now Norway’s pre-eminent crude export outside of the North Sea and Baltic region.

“During a capacity test at Johan Sverdrup the field reached a record-high production level of 755,000 b/d. This equals 6-7% of daily European oil consumption,” Equinor said.

“Equinor and partners Aker BP, Petoro and TotalEnergies aim to maintain production levels of oil from the field up towards this level going forward,” it added.
There are now no concerns about the capacity of the facilities, Marianne Bjelland, vice president for Johan Sverdrup exploration and production, said, following early technical issues that disrupted the rampup of Phase 2.

“This process capacity test at Johan Sverdrup confirms technically very robust facilities and was safely performed with no unwanted incidents. This is an important milestone, and the result of systematic and targeted efforts,” Bjelland said.

Equinor had earlier said it was testing the facilities for a possible increase, following technical issues earlier in 2023 that involved gas cooling equipment and manifolds, as well as vibration issues, according to Chief Financial Officer Torgrim Reitan, speaking on May 4.

Karl Johnny Hersvik, CEO of Aker BP, which holds the second-largest stake in Johan Sverdrup, said in a separate statement: “We are very pleased with the successful completion of the capacity test, which will enable an increase in Johan Sverdrup’s plateau production up towards 755,000 b/d, and which once again demonstrates the quality of this world-class asset. This great achievement has been made possible through systematic and targeted work by the operator Equinor.”

Output stabilizer
Norway’s crude oil production in April rose 9% on the year to 1.81 million b/d, with overall liquids output up 10% at 2.04 million b/d, likely supported by Phase 2 of Johan Sverdrup, official data published May 23 showed.

The first four months of 2023 saw monthly fluctuations in both crude and overall liquids production including natural gas liquids. On average, both crude and total liquids were up 4% at 1.80 million b/d and 2.02 million b/d respectively, the data from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate showed.

Equinor in its statement said in addition to the crude production, Johan Sverdrup is producing gas amounting to 31,500 b/d of oil equivalent.

Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed Johan Sverdrup crude at a 45 cent premium to the North Sea Dated Brent benchmark on May 22.
Source: Platts

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