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Coronavirus delays startup of Norway's flagship Johan Castberg Barents Sea oil project

Highlights

Coronavirus limiting Singapore, Norway construction

Project is poster child for Barents Sea oil expansion

London — Norway's Equinor expects the startup of its flagship Barents Sea oil project, Johan Castberg, to be delayed into 2023 as the coronavirus pandemic holds up work across the construction yards involved, it said July 24.

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The project, entailing construction work in Norway and Singapore, is the poster-child for the Norwegian industry's somewhat faltering expansion into the Barents Sea.

It is expected to produce 205,000 b/d of crude at peak, with the oil offloaded directly onto tankers.

It had been due on stream in the fourth quarter 2022, but this is no longer likely, Equinor told S&P Global Platts in an email.

"The COVID-19 situation continues to affect progress at Johan Castberg with limited activities at the yards. This is expected to shift the productions start to 2023," Equinor said.

Norway's only producing oil field in the Barents Sea is Goliat, operated by Var Energi, a subsidiary of Italy's Eni.

That field has produced well below expectations since its came on stream in 2016, averaging 41,000 b/d of crude production last year, and has been accompanied by numerous technical and safety-related issues.