Norwegian firm Equinor has announced its Johan Sverdrup oilfield is ramping up production at a faster pace than originally expected.

The field is now expected to hit a daily output rate of 470,000 barrels per day (bpd) in early May, earlier than expected, from the initially estimated 440,000 bpd.

The Johan Sverdrup field is located 150km off the Norwegian coast in the North Sea. It is being developed in two phases, of which the first phase came online in October 2019. The second phase will begin production in the fourth quarter of 2022.

It is operated by Equinor (42.63%), alongside Lundin Norway (20%), Petoro (17.36%), Aker BP (11.57%) and Total (8.44%).

Equinor said the full-field development’s break-even price is less than $20 a barrel and the expected cost of operating the field stands below $2 per barrel.

With expected recoverable reserves of 2.7 billion boe, Johan Sverdrup field is capable of producing up to 690,000 boe/d at full scale post the completion of Phase II development.

Equinor Norway development and production executive vice-president Arne Sigve Nylund said: “Johan Sverdrup is an important project to the companies, the industry and society at large. The project was sanctioned during the oil price fall in 2015 and resulted in important activity to the supplier industry in a demanding period.

“With low operating costs Johan Sverdrup provides revenue and cashflow to the companies and Norwegian society at large in a period affected by the coronavirus and a major drop in the oil price.

“In today’s situation, cooperation between operators, suppliers and authorities is more important than ever to maintain activity and value creation.”

Last October, Equinor announced that the first oil pumped from the Johan Sverdrup field has reached the Mongstad plant located north of Bergen in Norway.

In the same month, the firm started production from Phase I of the Johan Sverdrup field.