Norway will prove to be they key driver for Europe’s offshore oil and gas industry over the next three years thanks to previously untapped resources in the Norwegian Continental Shelf, a new report has claimed.

Fresh projects, such as the giant Johan Sverdrup field, will drive up offshore drilling expenditure annually from around $10billion last year to an estimated $12.8billion in 2016.

According to a new report, Norway will lead this charge, spending upwards of $5billion on offshore drilling by 2016, just ahead of a predicted $4billion by the UK.

“With the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate estimating much larger quantities of undiscovered oil in the Norwegian shelf than was previously anticipated, Norway is still proving itself to have strong potential for offshore drilling investments over the next two to three years,” GBI said.

The report, issued today by GBI Research, found that the two countries already lead the way in exploration and production offshore in Europe, representing around 75% of the offshore drilling costs in the continent.