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Norway's oil, gas firms raise investment forecasts

OSLO (Reuters) -Norway's oil and gas firms have raised their investment forecasts for 2022 and 2023 as more development plans are being made, a national statistics office (SSB) survey showed on Thursday.

The country's biggest business sector now expects to invest 175.3 billion Norwegian crowns ($17.50 billion) in 2022, up from a forecast of 172.8 billion made in August, the SSB said.

Next year's investments are seen at 149.7 billion crowns, up from a previous view of 135.3 billion, but the figure is expected to increase as companies plan to approve more projects by the end of this year, it added.

Spending on new offshore fields is only included in the survey when companies submit plans for development and operation (PDO) to the authorities.

Oil companies are expected to approve more than a dozen new projects by the end of this year, when Norway's temporary tax incentives, which were approved in 2020 to support offshore investments, expire.

As a result, the estimate for 2023 will likely increase significantly when numbers are next updated in February, SSB said.

"In that survey, the first estimate for 2024 is also published. With all these developments included already then, there is reason to expect a relatively high initial estimate for 2024," SSB said in a statement.

The investments in field development for 2023 rose by 12% to 50.2 billion crowns compared to the previous survey, mainly due to higher cost estimates at some fields, it added.

Expected spending on exploration was broadly unchanged.

Rising costs and supply chain bottlenecks, as well as market uncertainty could put some planned projects on hold.

Last week, Equinor postponed a decision on whether to develop the Arctic Wisting oil discovery, which would have become the world's northernmost producing field.

($1 = 10.0200 Norwegian crowns)

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Terje Solsvik and Christopher Cushing)