Norwegian liquids production fell m/m by 33 thousand b/d to 1.87 mb/d in April, lower y/y by 0.25 mb/d, suggesting underlying declines remained elevated. Since October 2017, underlying declines have averaged 12%, while field-level data pegged March declines at 14%. April output was hit by a three-day outage at the 0.1 mb/d Goliat field due to a fire in a sauna. Since peaking at 0.1 mb/d in January, Goliat output has fallen by 25% to 75 thousand b/d due to persistent teething issues. Norwegian production has now come in lower y/y for each of the last seven months as rising decline rates, as well as Goliat’s unreliability, have begun to bite. Total Norwegian output for May is likely to be lower still, due to two weeks of planned maintenance at the Edvard Grieg field (which produced at stable rates of 90 thousand b/d across Q1 18), and this will reduce scheduled Grane loadings by 66 thousand b/d m/m to total 0.17 mb/d, their lowest since November 2016. Ekofisk will undergo some work in June, but with Edvard Grieg and Oseberg back from maintenance by then, loadings should pick up by around 80 thousand b/d m/m. No major works have been announced for Q3 18 yet, but September is usually the low point for Norwegian production for the year, so we expect another output dip then.
While North Sea production continues to underperform, Brent spreads have come under pressure recently. BFOE-specific paper demand led to a surge in May and June Brent spreads, attracting record US exports since April at a time when European refineries are undergoing peak refinery maintenance. Ekofisk differentials have come under pressure as a result. With the June North Sea programme struggling to clear east, the market will have to contend with a near-term overhang in Europe. Once refineries return from works, this overhang will clear in a few weeks.