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Equinor has struck oil in a wildcat well drilled in the central part of the North Sea, in an area not previously known to contain oil and gas reserves, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said on Friday.
The operator Equinor and its partners in the license, Lundin Norway and Spirit Energy Norge, were aiming to prove commercial oil volumes in the prospect’s main segment, and to assess the reservoir’s age, quality, geometry, and fluid properties.
The discovery is expected to be commercial, Equinor said in its statement today, adding that the discovery is currently estimated to contain 15-35 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalent.
“When the full potential of the production license has been clarified, development will be considered towards the existing infrastructure in the area,” Equinor said.
The Lille Prinsen (the Little Prince) well is located north-west of the giant Johan Sverdrup field where the production start for phase one is planned for late 2019. Johan Sverdrup has resources of between 2.1 billion and 3.1 billion barrels of oil equivalents, and will be one of the most important industrial projects in Norway in the next 50 years.
Norway will be able to sustain its oil and gas production until 2023, thanks to the Johan Sverdrup field. However, without major new oil discoveries, authorities fear that the industry is set for a lasting decline after 2023.
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“If petroleum production is to be maintained at the current level beyond 2025, it is absolutely essential that additional profitable resources are proven, also larger discoveries,” the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said at the beginning of this year.
Last year, companies focused on the frontier areas rather than on the mature areas, but the exploration campaign was a flop. This year, the plans that companies have submitted for drilling indicate that most exploration wells will be drilled in the North Sea, the NPD said, in what could be some relief for authorities that oil firms will not snub again exploration in the area that has made Norway a leading oil and gas producer.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.