Gina Krog field in the North Sea; Source: Ole Jørgen Bratland/Equinor

After Shelf Drilling rig hits gas in North Sea, production start-up on the cards by year-end

Norwegian state-owned energy giant Equinor has made a new gas discovery in the North Sea, using one of Shelf Drilling’s jack-up rigs. This is the first commercial discovery in the Gina Krog license since 2011. While the discovery is small in size, natural gas production is anticipated to start this year.

Gina Krog field in the North Sea; Source: Ole Jørgen Bratland/Equinor

According to Equinor, this commercially viable gas discovery by the Gina Krog field in the North Sea contains recoverable volumes estimated to be between 5 and 16 million barrels of oil equivalent. Equinor (58.7%) is the operator of the license with KUFPEC (30%) and PGNiG (11.3%) as partners. The well was drilled by the Noble Lloyd Noble jack-up rig, which was bought by Shelf Drilling to be renamed Shelf Drilling Barsk. This rig was sold as part of Noble’s efforts to remedy competition concerns related to its merger with Maersk Drilling, which was concluded in 2022. 

The Norwegian energy giant explains that the discovery is considered commercially viable, partly because it can make use of existing infrastructure at the Gina Krog platform. As the plan is to put the well into production during the fourth quarter of 2023, preparations have already been carried out on Gina Krog so that the well can quickly start production.

Camilla Salthe, Equinor’s Senior Vice President for field life extension, commented: “The discovery will help extend the lifetime and strengthen the profitability of Gina Krog and is important for the entire Sleipner area. It will quickly bring new gas to Europe with good profitability and low CO2 emissions from production. Gina Krog is already electrified and has spare capacity. This shows how important it is to explore in mature areas on the Norwegian continental shelf.”

When the energy crisis hit in 2022, there was close collaboration with Norwegian authorities to deliver the maximum amount of gas to Europe. In line with this, the Gina Krog partnership significantly increased its gas export by exporting gas previously used for injection in oil extraction. At the same time, it triggered a need to accelerate projects that can extend the lifetime of the field.

Equinor highlights that this discovery is an important part of this work, together with the Eirin development. Gina Krog, which is located about 30 kilometers northwest of Sleipner, came on stream in June 2017. The Gina Krog platform is tied into Sleipner A and uses processing capacity on the platform and existing pipelines for sending the gas to the market in Europe.

Recently, Equinor also made an oil and gas discovery in the Lambda prospect about four kilometers west of the Oseberg field in the North Sea. The well was drilled from the Oseberg C integrated production, drilling, and living quarters platform that sits atop a steel jacket in the northern part of the field.