The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is expecting a new record in the number of exploration wells in the Barents Sea this year.
Fifteen wells are slated for drilling, two more than in the record year 2014.
“This is a significant increase, and shows a very positive development in the Barents Sea,” said Director General Bente Nyland at the Barents Sea Conference in Hammerfest today, Tuesday, 25 April.
An important milestone in 2017 will be to uncover the potential for discovering oil and gas in the southeastern Barents Sea – a recently opened area that was awarded in the 23rd licensing round and where no exploration wells have yet been drilled. According to Nyland, this is where the probability of making a discovery is greatest.
This summer, Statoil will drill the first wildcat well to the northeast in the area, and this well will become very important in the work on mapping the geology in this part of the Barents Sea.
“The well could confirm whether there is petroleum in the area, and will provide us with invaluable knowledge about the subsurface,” said the Direct General.
Statoil will also drill five/six wildcat wells in the Barents Sea. Lundin is also planning to drill two new wildcat wells and several appraisal wells in the Alta/Gohta area. Lundin has already made an oil and gas discovery in the Barents Sea this year. This has been named Filicudi, and it is estimated to contain between 5.5 and 16 million standard cubic metres of recoverable oil equivalents.
As of today, three new field developments are planned in the Barents Sea: Johan Castberg, Alta/Gohta and Wisting. Submission of the development plan for Johan Castberg is expected at the end of the year, and production is scheduled to start in 2022.
On the Goliat field, operator Eni and Statoil are planning to start producing from the Snadd formation during the course of the year. Snadd has increased the oil reserves on Goliat by 1.2 million standard cubic metres (7.5 million barrels), which Nyland was very happy to hear.
“We also expect more wells to be drilled on Goliat to help improve recovery from the field even further,” she said.
On Snøhvit, the Askeladd discovery – made in 1981 – will be developed in 2020-2021. This will help maintain production on the field for many years to come.
The Barents Sea currently has few facilities and pipelines, and most of the proven oil and gas deposits are located far from shore. This means that the discoveries must be even larger than in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea, or must be coordinated in order to become profitable.
“If the companies join forces to find good transport and development solutions in the area, the threshold for developing discoveries in the Barents Sea could become much lower,” said Bente Nyland.
She mentioned Barents Sea Oil Infrastructure, a project where multiple companies are looking at the possibilities of developing a joint oil terminal at Veidnes in Nordkapp municipality, as a good initiative.
“This can both contribute to reduced transport costs for the companies and will help create activity in Finnmark,” said Nyland.