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Norwegian liquids production was higher m/m by 0.27 mb/d at 1.83 mb/d in October, supported by output from the Johan Sverdrup field, which started up on 5 October. Production was lower y/y (-29 thousand b/d), highlighting both the extent of underlying declines and the heavy impact on NGLs production emanating from outages in the country’s natural gas sector. The Troll field, which typically produces around 10% of Norway’s NGLs, was turned down during October due to low gas prices and storage constraints. NGL production was 0.28 mb/d in October, down by 67 thousand b/d y/y, while crude rose by 37 thousand b/d y/y to 1.52 mb/d.
Production in November and December will continue to rise as Johan Sverdrup ramps up, with eight wells now delivering combined production above 0.30 mb/d in November. Preliminary loading programmes for the field are at 0.35 mb/d in both November and December. Natural gas fields are also ramping back up to meet European winter heating demand, in turn boosting NGLs output. Norway’s combined November loading programmes are set 0.33 mb/d higher m/m at 1.52 mb/d. This is largely due to more Johan Sverdrup loadings, but it is also thanks to a hefty Ekofisk programme (0.28 mb/d) and a strong Asgard schedule (0.11 mb/d). In December, the total Norwegian loading programme is planned at 1.54 mb/d, the highest since January 2012. Even with North Sea loadings set to be higher this month and next, the key Norwegian grades continue to trade at a premium to Dated Brent, with Troll and Ekofisk currently fetching the strongest premiums. Johan Sverdrup cargoes are reportedly trading at a $0.50–1.50 per barrel discount to Dated Brent, as refiners continue to test the grade. This discount is sufficient for the grade to garner strong buying interest from Asia and Europe. The first cargoes have been shipped to Sweden, China, South Korea and India, while China’s independent refiners are reportedly buying in excess of 5 mb for January 2020 arrival.