Depsea Yantai rig; Source: Odfjell Drilling

Recent North Sea discovery deemed ‘important’ for further exploration activities

A recently confirmed gas/condensate discovery in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, made by DNO Norge, is perceived to be a play-opener, which has considerably de-risked other exploration prospects within the same area.

Depsea Yantai rig; Source: Odfjell Drilling

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) granted DNO a drilling permit for the well 25/7-11 S, the Norma prospect, in April 2023, weeks after the Norwegian player obtained consent for exploration drilling in block 25/7 in the North Sea from the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA).

While revealing a play-opening gas condensate discovery at the prospect in license PL984 last week, DNO underlined that the preliminary evaluation of the discovery indicated gross recoverable resources in the range of 25-130 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) on a P90-P10 basis, with a mean of 70 mmboe, in a Jurassic reservoir zone with high-quality sandstones.

The NPD has now confirmed the discovery while elaborating that DNO Norge is concluding the drilling of exploration well 25/7-11 S in the North Sea. According to the Norwegian authorities, the recoverable gas/condensate volumes of between 2-21 million Sm3 were proven.

The objective of the well was to prove petroleum in Upper Jurassic reservoir rocks in the Draupne Formation. The well 25/7-11 S encountered a 16-meter gas/condensate column in the Draupne Formation, of which 13 meters were net reservoir in sandstone layers totaling 19 meters with moderate to good reservoir quality. Based on NPD’s statement, it is uncertain if the petroleum/water contact was encountered.

The well was not formation-tested, but extensive data acquisition and sampling have been performed. The well 25/7-11 S was drilled to 4,786 meters below sea level and was terminated in the Heather Formation in the Middle to Upper Jurassic. The water depth at the site is 122 meters and the well will be permanently plugged and abandoned.

The Norma discovery was made by the Odfjell Drilling-managed Deepsea Yantai rig about 20 km north of the Balder field in the central part of the North Sea and 215 km west of Stavanger. The NPD sees the results from this well as “important” for future exploration and development in the area. The licensees intend to further assess the well results to delineate the discovery and investigate nearby prospects in the production license.

This is the first exploration well in production license 984 awarded in the APA 2018. DNO is the operator of the license with an ownership interest of 30% while its partners are Vår Energi (30%), Source Energy (20%), and Equinor (20%). Several exploration wells have previously been drilled in this area, including ConocoPhillips’ well 25/7-7, known as Busta, in 2019, which resulted in the discovery of gas/condensate.