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Court Injunction Forces Statoil To Stop Arctic Drilling

A small Norwegian firm has forced Statoil to stop drilling in the Barents Sea of the Arctic by filing a suit against the oil major over a technology dispute, according to a spokesperson from Statoil.

NeoDrill claims that the technique Statoil refers to as Cap-X drilling was originally based on its Conductor Anchor Node (CAN) technology, which has been in development since the year 2000.

Blaamann, a well Statoil spudded roughly a week ago, would have been the first exploration well drilled in the Barents Sea this year. The firm had tried to prevent the Stavanger court from approving the injunction, but the effort failed.

"We are taking steps to comply with the decision. We are currently securing the (Blaamann) well and that will take a few days to complete," Statoil spokesman Eskil Eriksen told Reuters.

So far, Statoil is unsure when it can restart operations at the new well, but the company still plans on completing all five wells in the sea on schedule by the end of 2017. A license granted by the Norwegian government gives the company a 50 percent stake in all production in the Barents block.

"We will mobilize the alternative technology in time to continue the drilling, and we will complete the Barents Sea campaign as planned," Eriksen added.

Related: Is Goldman Sachs Playing With Fire In Venezuela?

Statoil has been a 30 percent stakeholder in NeoDrill since 2010, but the former had access to CAN since 2001, when the two companies first partnered together on a project.

"Statoil has thereby had full access to sensitive technical information related to the CAN-technology in NeoDrill," the smaller firm told Reuters in an emailed statement.

Statoil maintains that the injunction has been granted on “wrong information”, but declined to comment further on the legal proceedings, which will continue during a hearing on Wednesday.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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