Transocean Spitsbergen rig; Source: Transocean

Equinor comes up dry in North Sea well

Norway’s energy giant Equinor has drilled an exploration well in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, which turned out to be dry. This well was drilled by one of Transocean’s rigs.

Transocean Spitsbergen rig; Source: Transocean

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), now called the Norwegian Offshore Directorate (NOD), granted Equinor a drilling permit for the wildcat well 30/4-4 (Sara prospect) in August 2023 and the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA), recently renamed as the Norwegian Ocean Industry Safety Authority (Noisa), followed suit shortly after. This well is situated in production license 043 FS, which was awarded on February 17, 2023, and is valid until February 17, 2028.

Equinor is the operator of the license and holds an ownership interest of 51%, while its partners, Petoro and Sval Energi, hold the remaining 30% and 19% interest, respectively. The water depth at the site is 128.6 meters and the well 30/4-4 was expected to be spud in September 2023. The drilling operations were planned to be undertaken with the Transocean Spitsbergen semi-submersible rig.

The 2010-built Transocean Spitsbergen is a sixth-generation dual-derrick winterized semi-submersible rig capable of drilling high-pressure/high-temperature formations and equipped with an automatic drilling control system. This rig, which was built at Aker Stord, has been working for Equinor for several years.

According to the Norwegian Offshore Directorate, the exploration well 30/4-4 was drilled about seven kilometers north of the Martin Linge field in the North Sea and 180 kilometers west of Bergen. This is the first exploration well in production license 043 FS, which was awarded in the awards in predefined areas (APA) in 2022.

The well 30/4-4 was drilled to a vertical depth of 2,135 meters below sea level and was terminated in shale from the Cenozoic. As the primary exploration target for the well was to prove petroleum in sandstone in the Hermod Member in the Palaeocene, the well encountered 114 meters of Hermod sandstones with very good reservoir quality.

However, the well is deemed to be dry. The Norwegian Offshore Directorate also confirmed that extensive wireline data was collected. The well will be permanently plugged and abandoned.