Statoil: Barents sea exploration is marathon, not sprint
Statoil has completed its 2013-2014 exploration program in the Barents Sea. According to the Norwegian oil giant, this represents an all-time high exploration activity and 10% of all exploration wells drilled in the Barents Sea since its opening in 1980.
“This is a unique exploration program. A commitment of this size and complexity requires geological, technological and organisational muscle, and the data collected are important for the future understanding of the oil and gas potential in the Barents Sea,” says Irene Rummelhoff, senior vice president for exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf.
“It has been argued that the exploration program has had limited success. Indeed, we have made fewer commercial discoveries than we had hoped for. However, there are a number of things that I take pride in. We have tested a great variety of geological plays in frontier areas and dramatically increased our knowledge with the huge amount of subsurface data we have collected. We have also demonstrated that we can operate in a safe and efficient manner in the remote parts of the Barents Sea.”
The exploration program started with five wells in the vicinity of Johan Castberg field. Statoil says that these wells were critical to clarify the oil potential in the area in order to plan the development of the Johan Castberg field. The oil discovery in Drivis will be developed as a part of the Johan Castberg project.
“We have also demonstrated that we can operate in a safe and efficient manner in the remote parts of the Barents Sea.”
The three wells drilled in the Hoop area during the summer allowed to build important knowledge of this huge frontier area of the Barents Sea, the company said. While confirming a working petroleum system in Hoop area, Statoil said it needed to work further to understand the migration and where the oil has accumulated.
The Hoop wells were the northernmost wells ever drilled on the NCS, over 300 kilometres from shore. These wells provided a lot of new learning when it comes to exploring remote northern areas and solving logistical and operational challenges related to it.
Though the wells were drilled during the summer months when ice was several hundred kilometres away, we built important experience through developing an ice management plan which we will bring with us moving forward, not least for the 23rd concession round.
The last part of the exploration program was designed to increase Statoil’s understanding of the petroleum potential in different areas of the Barents Sea – the Finnmark platform, the Bjørnøya basin north of Johan Castberg, and the Nordkapp basin. Statoil tested a number of new geological play models, and the Pingvin well northwest of Johan Castberg was a play-opener proving both hydrocarbons and a reservoir in a new unexplored area of the Barents Sea.
Marathon, not sprint
Statoil has said that the exploration program overall has been very efficient, especially the last seven wells drilled by the Transocean Spitsbergen drilling rig. These wells were drilled 40% faster than industry average for the Barents Sea, enabling two more wells than originally planned for to be drilled, Statoil has explained.
“Exploring in the Barents Sea is not a sprint, but a marathon. It is about long-term thinking, stamina and systematic building of knowledge. I see our 2013-2014 exploration programme as an important building block for the future of Barents Sea exploration. Our focus next year will be to analyse the extensive data we have collected, interpret the 3D data from the joint seismic acquisition in the southeastern Barents Sea and decide on the way forward in the Barents Sea. We will also work hard to deliver a strong application in the 23rd concession round,” says Rummelhoff.