Underpressure, defined as any pore pressure below the hydrostatic, is relatively underrepresented in literature. In this contribution we document underpressure both onshore Svalbard and in the northern part of the Norwegian Barents Sea. Furthermore we discuss the potential geological processes contributing to the underpressure generation and the implications to petroleum exploration.

Underpressure of up to 50 bar is observed onshore Svalbard and in five of the northernmost wells of the Barents Sea, with the former equating to some 50% of hydrostatic pressure at approximately 850 metres depth.

Basins, including the study area, where naturally occurring underpressure has been documented share several common geological features; most notably all have undergone recent uplift. Whilst previously documented cases of underpressure have been observed in elevated onshore basins, underpressure on the Barents Shelf occurs below sea level. The combination of detailed onshore well and outcrop observations from Svalbard’s Longyearbyen CO2 lab and outcrops, and numerous offshore exploration wells in the northern Barents sea provide insight into the different potential underpressure forming mechanisms.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Braathen, A., Bælum, K., Christiansen, H. H., Dahl, T., Eiken, O., Elvebakk, H., Hansen, F., Hanssen, T. H., Jochmann, M. and Johansen, T. A.
    [2012]. “The Longyearbyen CO 2 Lab of Svalbard, Norway—initial assessment of the geological conditions for CO 2 sequestration.” Norwegian Journal of Geology/Norsk Geologisk Forening, 92(4).
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Hao, X., Zhang, J., Dazhen, T., Ming, L., Zhang, W., and Wenji, L.
    [2012]. Controlling factors of underpressure reservoirs in the Sulige gas field, Ordos Basin. Petroleum Exploration and development, 39(1), 70–74.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Henriksen, E., Bjørnseth, H. M., Hals, T. K., Heide, T. Kiryukhina, T., Kløvjan, O. S., Larssen, G. B., Ryseth, A. E., Rønning, K., and Sollid, K.
    [2011]. “Uplift and erosion of the greater Barents Sea: impact on prospectivity and petroleum systems.” Geological Society, London, Memoirs35(1): 271–281.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Hillis, R. R.
    [2003]. Pore pressure/stress coupling and its implications for rock failure. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 216(1), 359–368.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Huq, F., Smalley, P. C., Mørkved, P. T., Johansen, I., Yarushina, V., and Johansen, H.
    [2017]. The Longyearbyen CO 2 Lab: Fluid communication in reservoir and caprock. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 63, 59–76.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Jakobsson, M., Mayer, L., Coakley, B., Dowdeswell, J. A., Forbes, S., Fridman, B., Hodnesdal, H., Noormets, R., Pedersen, R. and Rebesco, M.
    [2012]. “The international bathymetric chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO) version 3.0.” Geophysical Research Letters, 39(12).
    [Google Scholar]
  7. NPD
    NPD [2017], Geological assessment of petroleum resources in eastern parts of Barents Sea north 2017. Stavanger. Retrieved from: http://www.npd.no/en/Publications/Reports/Geological-assessment-of-petroleum-resources---Barents-Sea-north-2017/
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Ogata, K., Senger, K., Braathen, A., Tveranger, J. and Olaussen, S.
    [2014]. The importance of natural fractures in a tight reservoir for potential CO2 storage: a case study of the upper Triassic—middle Jurassic Kapp Toscana Group (Spitsbergen, Arctic Norway). Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 374(1), 395–415.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Senger, K., Betlem, P., Liira, M., Roy, S., Midttømme, K., Wheeler, W., Beka, T., Olaussen, S. and Ohm, S.
    [2017]: Integrated thermo-baric modelling of the gas hydrate stability zone onshore Svalbard, Arctic Norway. 9th International Conference on Gas Hydrates. Denver, USA.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Senger, K., Tveranger, J., Braathen, A., Olaussen, S., Ogata, K. and Larsen, L.
    [2015] CO2 storage resource estimates in unconventional reservoirs: insights from a pilot-sized storage site in Svalbard, Arctic Norway. Environmental Earth Sciences, 73, 3987–4009.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Serebryakov, V., J.RobertsonJr and G.Chilingarian
    [2002]. Origin and prediction of abnormal formation pressures, Gulf Professional Publishing, Houston.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Swarbrick, R.E. and Osborne, M. J.
    [1998] Mechanisms that generate abnormal pressures: an overview, In: Law, B.E., G.F.Ulmishek, and V.I.Slavin (Eds.)Abnormal pressures in hydrocarbon environments:AAPGMemoir70, 13–34.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Wangen, M., Souche, A., and Johansen, H.
    [2016]. A model for underpressure development in a glacial valley, an example from Adventdalen, Svalbard. Basin Research, 28(6), 752–769.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Zhang, J.
    [2011]. Pore pressure prediction from well logs: Methods, modifications, and new approaches. Earth-Science Reviews, 108(1), 50–63.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error