Dry debut

It took Esso less than a year from receiving a production licence in Norway’s first offshore licensing round during 1965 to spudding a well with Ocean Traveler in North Sea block 8/3. But this first probe on the NCS found nothing.
  • Bjørn Rasen

Ocean Traveler

Ocean Traveler


That was more than three years before Ekofisk became the discovery which really sparked the Norwegian oil adventure, after 32 wells had been drilled since 8/3-1.

Esso Exploration and Production Norway A/S did find oil in 1967 with its second well, but the discovery was not considered commercial at the time. Thirty-two years later, it was brought on stream as the Balder field.

Cod ranked as the first discovery to be declared commercial, when oil was found by Ocean Viking on 10 June 1968 in the ninth well and the second drilled by Phillips Petroleum.

“But it wasn’t developed until later because the companies devoted all their energies to exploration,” says geologist Alf Stensøy at the NPD.

“And when Phillips found Ekofisk, that took all the attention and capacity.” Cod was not brought on stream until 26 December 1977. 



Ocean Traveler spudded the well 163 kilometres south-west of Stavanger cathedral on 19 July 1966. This drilling debut was over 84 days later, on 10 October.

Five cores were taken from the well at depths from 2 075 to 3 015 metres. Measuring a total of 25 metres in length, they are still available in the NPD’s rock store.

The first well was naturally an event, and the NPD’s specialists assembled available data several years later and published NPD Paper No 1 to describe its lithology – sequence of geological layers.

Stensøy notes that the government wanted an interpretation which could be published. This and later papers from the NPD were often used for educational purposes among Europe’s continental shelf nations.

“We can well say that the earlier NPD papers were one of the first elements in what later became our fact pages,” Stensøy observes.

All well descriptions are now available as well data summary sheets in this part of the NPD website.


NPD Paper No 1 – Lithology

NPD Paper No 1 – Lithology.
Well no 8/3-1
is a 24-page publication with fold-out presentations of lithography in the well.
(Photo: Arne Bjørøen)

Topics: Wells