Statoil told to improve plans for drilling in Barents Sea South-East

Norwegian offshore safety body, the Petroleum Safety Authority, has identified improvement points during an audit of Statoil’s planning process for exploration drilling of well 7435/12-1 in the Barents Sea South-East area.

According to the regulator, Barents Sea South-East is a new area for exploration drilling without nearby wells from which to draw significant experience.

The agency said that great distances and the Arctic location might entail particular area and location-specific challenges for planning and execution of exploration drilling.

The purpose of the audit was to examine how Statoil, together with the drilling contractor Songa Offshore and other parties involved, have conducted the planning and preparation process.

This included gathering information, use of the relevant experience and risk assessments for preparing robust plans for exploration drilling in the new areas opened up in Barents Sea South-East, and, more specifically, well 7435/12-1.

The safety body added that no non-conformities were identified. However, the audit did reveal improvement points regarding risk reduction, decoupling from BOPs in the event of incidents, routines for testing the ice deflection system and monitoring, and managing ice fragments.

Exploration well 7435/12-1 on the Korpfjell prospect is located in production license (PL) 859 on Haapet Dome some 37 kilometers from the border with Russia. Water depth at the well location is 253 meters.

The license is operated by Statoil with a 30 percent interest with the remaining partners being Chevron, Lundin, ConocoPhillips, and SDØE with 20, 15, 15, and 20 percent stakes, respectively.

The PSA told Statoil to report on how the improvement points would be addressed by August 21, at the latest.