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Norway has 50 undeveloped gas finds it could use - Gassco CEO

[STAVANGER, Norway] Norway has around 50 undeveloped natural gas discoveries that could eventually be tied in to its vast export system, the head of national pipeline operator Gassco told Reuters on Tuesday.

The cost of developing offshore oil and gas fields has been reduced in recent years thanks to technological advances, potentially making discoveries more profitable.

"Some of them are in a really early stage of development, some not matured at all," Gassco Chief Executive Frode Leversund said on the sidelines of an energy conference.

Norway is Europe's second largest gas exporter after Russia.

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The CEO declined to estimate the potential size of the additional resources. He said it is ultimately up to energy firms to assess which discoveries are profitable to develop and which are not.

"What we have seen is that based on the efficiency (gain) that has been (made) in the industry since 2014 and until now, we see that the project costs for some of these fields have improved," Mr Leversund said of the 50 discoveries.

"This is a totality so it covers small fields, bigger fields and the whole span. The decision will be up to each licence (holder) to decide whether to invest. Then Gassco will find the best solution to get them into the system," he added.

Norway this year is on track to deliver a similar amount of gas to Europe as it did in 2018, when it piped 114.2 billion cubic metres (bcm), albeit with less demand from Britain this year and more sent to continental Europe.

"If the market is there, taking this volume in, then Norway will deliver approximately on the same level as last year, even though the maintenance period is a bit higher this year," the CEO said.

"Volumes into Germany this year are really high and I see that volumes into UK are lower than the same period last year, exactly due to the import of LNG (into the UK)," he added.

While maintenance levels at gas fields, and at import and export terminals, can impact Norway's gas deliveries, the outlook for 2020 also remains stable compared to the current year, Leversund said.

By the late 2020s, Norway is likely to export between 100 and 115 bcm of gas per year, a slight reduction from the all-time record of 117.4 bcm hit in 2017.