FPSO Goliat; Credit: Øyvind Gravås/Vår Energi

Recent oil discovery in Barents Sea puts forward tie-back to existing FPSO

After Norway’s oil and gas player, Vår Energi, made a new oil discovery near the Goliat field in the Barents Sea off Norway, the possibility of a tie-back of this discovery to the existing infrastructure has been put on the table.

FPSO Goliat; Credit: Øyvind Gravås/Vår Energi

Vår Energi obtained consent for exploration drilling and a drilling permit for the prospect, called Countach, in September 2022. The well was drilled using Transocean’s Transocean Enabler semi-submersible rig. The water depth at the site is 399 metres.

The drilling programme for the well 7122/8-1 S entailed the drilling of a wildcat well in production license 229, where Vår Energi is the operator with an ownership interest of 65 per cent while its partner is Equinor with the remaining 35 per cent stake. This is the ninth exploration well in this license. In early February 2023, Vår Energi announced the discovery of oil in the Countach well.

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In an update on Thursday, 2 March 2023, The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) confirmed that Vår Energi had concluded the drilling of wildcat well 7122/8-1 S, which was drilled about 13 kilometres northeast of the Goliat field in the southern part of the Barents Sea and 90 km northwest of Hammerfest.

According to the NPD, the primary exploration target for the well was to prove petroleum in the Kobbe Formation in Middle Triassic reservoir rocks while the secondary exploration target was to prove petroleum in the Realgrunnen Subgroup in Lower/Middle Jurassic reservoir rocks.

Based on the NPD’s statement, the well 7122/8-1 S encountered an oil column of 13 metres in the Realgrunnen Subgroup in sandstone layers, totalling 29 metres with moderate to good reservoir quality and the oil/water contact was encountered at 1,650 metres below sea level.

Furthermore, the well encountered gas and oil columns of about 240 metres in the Kobbe Formation, a total of 55 metres of which were sandstone layers with poor to moderate reservoir quality while the oil/water contact was not encountered.

The preliminary estimates of the size of the discovery, in the segment that was drilled, are between 0.5 and 2.1 million Sm3 recoverable oil equivalent while the potential in the other segments could be comparable or larger. The NPD highlights that the licensees will consider whether to drill an appraisal well, and possibly tie the discovery back to existing infrastructure on the Goliat field.

The well 7122/8-1 S was not formation-tested, but extensive data acquisition and sampling have been carried out. It was drilled to respective vertical and measured depths of 2,639 and 2,957 metres below sea level, and was terminated in the Kobbe Formation in the Middle Triassic. The well has been permanently plugged and abandoned.

The Transocean Enabler rig will now return to the wildcat well 7122/9-1 in production licence 229E in the southern part of the Barents Sea, where Vår Energi is the operator, to complete the remaining plugging of the well.

Vår Energi pondering tie-back to FPSO Goliat

In a separate statement, Vår Energi confirmed that the potential of the Countach prospect, in the undrilled segments, is estimated at up to 3,7 million Sm3 (23 million bbls) of total recoverable oil equivalents.

Rune Oldervoll, Vår Energi’s EVP Exploration and Production, remarked: “Countach reinforces the company’s position as the leading exploration company on the Norwegian shelf. This discovery is yet another in a series of successful exploration wells in the Barents Sea in recent years, including Lupa – the largest discovery on the Norwegian shelf in 2022. At the same time, the discovery confirms our exploration strategy and our position in the area.

“We will consider potential commercial development options and tie-in of the discovery to FPSO Goliat. Due to late arrival of the drilling rig on the field this winter, we have not been able to carry out the planned sidetrack before the environmental drilling restrictions commence on 1 March. We look forward to continuing to explore the area around Goliat at a later point in time.”