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Companies operating in the Norwegian Continental Shelf are planning for more drilling in the Arctic areas in the Barents Sea, encouraged by Norway’s government which wants more oil and gas discoveries to boost energy security and help European partners with energy supply.
At a conference on the Barents Sea in Hammerfest last week, Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Aasland called on oil and gas companies to fulfill their “social responsibility” and “leave no stone unturned” to find more natural gas resources in the Barents Sea, the area estimated to hold most of Norway’s undiscovered oil and gas resources.
“The petroleum adventure in the north has only just started,” Aasland said, adding that the government would help the Barents Sea industry as Norway must develop, not liquidate, its petroleum industry.
Apart from being in a harsher environment so far north, the Barents Sea poses another roadblock to developing oil and gas resources—the north lacks the infrastructure in the more developed areas on the shelf that would make tie-ups and resource development easier.
Still, operators are not giving up.
“Even if we want to maintain production, we have to explore more, we have to find more,” Torger Rod, CEO of Barents-focused energy producer Var Energi, told Bloomberg in an interview.
In March, Var Energi confirmed an oil discovery in the Countach well in a production license northwest of Hammerfest near Goliat, one of two operational oil and gas fields in the Barents Sea.
Var Energi will consider potential commercial development options and tie-in of the discovery to Goliat FPSO.
“This discovery is yet another in a series of successful exploration wells in the Barents Sea in recent years, including Lupa – the largest discovery on the Norwegian shelf in 2022. At the same time, the discovery confirms our exploration strategy and our position in the area,” said Rune Oldervoll, EVP Exploration and Production in Var Energi.
Equinor, which plans to start production from the Johan Castberg field in the Barents Sea at the end of 2024, is also betting on obtaining more licenses in the Arctic.
Early this year, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy proposed including additional areas in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea in the next licensing round for Awards in Predefined Areas (ARA) expected to be awarded in early 2024.
“The North has always been important for us,” Grete Birgitte Haaland, senior vice president for exploration and production north at Equinor, told Bloomberg.
“We want to explore more and we think we will find more.”
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.