Depsea Yantai rig; Source: Odfjell Drilling

Fresh oil discovery making room for potential tie-back to existing North Sea infrastructure

Norwegian oil and gas player Vår Energi has found more oil in the Balder area, located in the central North Sea off the coast of Norway. The company sees the latest oil discovery as a potential commercial candidate to be tied into nearby existing infrastructure in this area.

Depsea Yantai rig; Source: Odfjell Drilling

The latest Ringhorne North exploration well and two additional side-track/appraisal wells are located in production license 956, which is operated by Vår Energi (50%), in partnership with Aker BP (20%), Harbour Energy Norge (15%), and Sval Energi (15%). The drilling operations were done with the Odfjell Drilling-managed Deepsea Yantai semi-submersible rig eight kilometers north of the Vår Energi-operated Ringhorne field, about 200 kilometers northwest of Stavanger.

Torger Rød, Vår Energi’s COO, commented: “The discovery proves that there are still opportunities in the mature areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, and I’m glad to see that our near-field exploration strategy is paying off. We believe there is more value to be unlocked in the Balder area, and we are intensifying exploration activities to maximise value creation from the existing infrastructure.”

With estimated recoverable resources of between 13 and 23 million barrels of oil, the operator believes that the Ringhorne North discovery adds to its “already impressive exploration track record,” as the company has had a discovery rate of over 50% over the past five years, with costs of less than $1 per barrel post-tax.

Rune Oldervoll, Vår Energi’s EVP Exploration & Production, explained: “Our exploration portfolio is the basis to unlock and create future value. We are among the largest license holders on the NCS with roughly 200 licenses. Our commitment to explore for further resources remains firm. We have a highly experienced team, and we are also leveraging the expertise of Eni, our major shareholder, one of the most successful explorers globally.”

According to Vår Energi, the latest discovery supports its plans for continuous development of the Balder area as a long-term production hub in the North Sea, as this black gold find unlocks new resources and proves the northern extension of the Ringhorne field. In addition, the Norwegian player underlines that the Ringhorne North discovery de-risks more drillable prospects in the area and opens up potential development synergies with other nearby discoveries such as King-Prince and Evra-Iving.

“The reserves and resource base in the Balder area has been steadily growing for decades and we are convinced it will continue to do so in decades to come. We are positioned to produce high value, low emission barrels for a long time – and the latest Ringhorne North discovery is underpinning our long-term production targets,” added Oldervoll. 

Recently, Vår Energi changed its timeline for the first oil from the Balder X life extension project, bumping it to the fourth quarter of 2024. The company is determined to achieve a 50% emissions reduction on operated fields by 2030 for Scope 1.

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The Norwegian player intends to make this happen with the electrification of the Balder/Grane area, Balder area optimization with the FPSO Jotun in production, and the Balder FPU removal.