Norway’s oil major Statoil plans to significantly step up its exploration drilling for oil and gas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf in 2018, a spokesman told Reuters on Friday.
“We are looking at drilling 25 to 30 wells in Norway in 2018. That’s an early ambition we have and it depends on some approvals,” said Statoil’s spokesman.
These plans include drilling at licenses operated by Statoil and licenses operated by other companies in which Statoil holds stakes.
For 2017, Statoil planned to drill 30 exploration wells worldwide as operator and partner, expecting to complete 16-18 exploration wells on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), the company said at the beginning of this year. That was higher than the 14 wells it completed offshore Norway as operator and partner in 2016.
Cost cuts and changed market conditions had allowed Statoil to boost its global exploration drilling plans for this year by 30 percent, Tim Dodson, Executive Vice President for Exploration in Statoil, said in January.
This year Statoil was hoping for exploration success in the Barents Sea. But as a whole the Barents Sea campaign was a disappointment for all operators who, however, are not giving up, and vowed to return with more drilling next year.
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Statoil explored five licenses in the Barents Sea this summer. Of those five exploration wells, the oil giant only found between 25 and 50 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalents at the Kayak well, which could add volumes to the Johan Castberg development. The Korpfjell exploration well—the first well drilled in the Norwegian section of a formerly disputed area between Norway and Russia, and the northernmost wildcat well drilled on the Norwegian shelf—was a disappointment compared to expectations that it could contain more than 250 million boe, or even 1 billion boe.
Statoil, as well as Norway’s oil and gas industry regulator, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), say that it is vital to keep exploration activity high in order to keep oil production stable and offset an expected plunge after 2025. NPD recently voiced the industry concern that while chasing the frontier resources in the Barents Sea, oil companies have been neglecting the powerhouse of the Norwegian oil industry—the North Sea. Without new oil discoveries, especially in mature areas with well-connected infrastructure, the decline in Norway’s oil production will be even bigger than expected, NPD says.
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.