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Equinor: Norway's Johan Sverdrup field reaches 200,000 bbl/d weeks after startup

Norway's giant Johan Sverdrup oil field has reached a production level of 200,000 barrels per day fewer than three weeks after starting up, state-controlled Equinor ASA said Oct. 24.

The announcement came as Equinor published an otherwise weak set of quarterly results, including a financial impairment of $2.8 billion relating to its U.S. shale activity.

However, Johan Sverdrup, which came on stream Oct. 5, appears to be meeting the company's best expectations, and it reaffirmed that the field should reach its first-phase "plateau" production target of 440,000 bbl/d next summer.

The field is currently producing from five wells, and all eight of the wells drilled ahead of the startup should be producing by the end of November, Equinor said.

Equinor announced on Oct. 21 that Johan Sverdrup crude had arrived by pipeline at the Mongstad terminal for tanker loading, with the first cargo bound for Asia.

Discovered in 2010, Johan Sverdrup holds an estimated 2.7 billion barrels of recoverable reserves and is the third-largest oil field ever discovered offshore Norway. As such, it should for a few years turn around the decline in Norwegian oil production.

Equinor's oil production fell in Norway and internationally in the third quarter, with Norwegian output down 9% from a year earlier at 497,000 bbl/d, and overseas output down 2% on the year at 448,000 bbl/d. Its Norwegian gas production was down 17% on the year at 570,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, as it intentionally deferred output to wait for better prices.

The company's Norwegian oil production was up slightly from the second quarter, but more than 100,000 bbl/d lower than in the first quarter 2018, as it has struggled with decline at mature fields and technical difficulties.

Its U.S. onshore investments, which center on the eastern U.S. and Marcellus gas production targeted at consumers in New York state, also appears to be struggling. It said $2.24 billion of its net financial impairment for the quarter related to unconventional onshore assets in the U.S., "mainly as a result of more cautious price assumptions."

Equinor reiterated it expects its overall oil and gas production to be broadly flat this year compared with 2018, but to grow by 3% per year on average from 2019 to 2025. Despite dipping in the third quarter, it has generally been offsetting the decline in its domestic oil production with increased production overseas, particularly offshore Brazil.

Nick Coleman is a reporter with S&P Global Platts. S&P Global Market Intelligence and S&P Global Platts are owned by S&P Global Inc.