Equinor postpones decision on a key offshore Arctic oil field

If developed, the Wisting project — some 300 kilometers north of Norway's coast — would be the northernmost oil field in the country.

Norway’s state oil company Equinor and its partners announced a postponement of an investment decision on the Wisting oil project, which was poised to be the northernmost in the country.

According to Equinor, global inflation and challenges related with energy markets and the war in Ukraine have created capacity challenges and bottlenecks among international and Norwegian suppliers.

“Many people have been working hard to realize Wisting, and the decision is demanding,” Geir Tungesvik, Equinor’s executive vice president for projects, drilling and procurement, said in a statement. “However, in the current supplier market postponing the investment decision to ensure an economically sound development and robustness in the execution phase of the project is the right decision. When the pressure in the supplier market subsides, the Wisting project will be possible to execute in a good way.”

The updated plan for the project includes an investment decision by the end of 2026. The initial plan was to present the decision by December of this year.

The maturation of the project will continue, the company underlines.

“We will now, together with partners and suppliers, mature a profitable Wisting project that will have ripple effects in the North within the ordinary tax regime. We have previously successfully improved projects facing challenging cost developments prior to final investment decision. We will aim to do the same with the Wisting project,” says Kjetil Hove, executive vice president for exploration a production in Norway.

If developed, the Wisting project will be the northernmost on the Norwegian shelf.

Wisting is located as much as 300 kilometers north of the Norwegian mainland and only about 50 kilometers south of the Arctic sea ice edge.

Environmental organizations rejoiced over the decision.

“This is a great victory for everyone that cares about climate and the environment,” says Truls Gulowsen, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway.

“Time is over for the development of new major oil fields [and] we are convinced that this means the end for this horrible project,” the environmentalist said.

Environmental organizations have strongly warned against drilling in the area, arguing that a spill could seriously harm marine life in the area.

“The risks related with a development of the Wisting oil field are far too high and it is a gamble with marine life in the Arctic,” Gulowsen says.

The project is also seen as a “climate bomb.”

“The Wisting field is planned to produce from 2028 to 2058; that is eight years after the date set for the world to be carbon neutral,” environmental organization Nature and Youth says.

In a statement, environmental organization Nature and Youth demands that Norwegian legislators put a stop to field development.

“The project is not compatible with Norway’s climate targets and the need for a quicker green transition,” the environmentalists said.

The Wisting partners include Equinor Energy AS (35 percent), AkerBP AS (35 percent), Petoro AS (20 percent) and INPEX Idemitsu Norge AS (10 percent).