The shelf in 2010 – Exploration activities

13/01/2011 Sixteen new discoveries were made on the Norwegian continental shelf in 2010, 12 fewer than in 2009. A total of 41 exploration wells were completed during the course of the year.

Of these 41 wells, 32 were wildcat wells, while nine were appraisal wells. This means a discovery success rate of 50 per cent. Ten of the discoveries were made in the North Sea and six in the Norwegian Sea.

45 exploration wells were spudded last year, 20 fewer than in 2009. 35 of the 45 spudded exploration wells were wildcat wells, while the remainder were appraisal wells.

Most in the North Sea

The exploration activity was greatest in the North Sea, with 32 spudded exploration wells, and this is also where most of the discoveries were made. The discoveries are generally small, but a few medium-sized discoveries were also made. This is uplifting, considering that the North Sea is a mature exploration area.    

Statoil proved oil and gas in the northern section of the Sleipner area, near the Gudrun discovery, in wildcat well 15/3-9. Oil was discovered in the Draupner formation, as well as an oil and gas column in the Hugin formation. Both discoveries were made in Jurassic rocks.

Lundin made two discoveries northeast of this area, near discovery 16/1-8 (Luno), which was proven in 2007. In well 16/1-4, just north of the discovery, oil was proven in the transition between the Cretaceous/Upper Jurassic, and in the Heimdal formation, in the Paleocene.

25 kilometres further east, the same company proved oil in well 16/2-6 (Avaldsnes) in Jurassic rocks.  The discovery has been production-tested and proved a reservoir with good flow properties. The discovery has several similarities with discovery 16/1-8.

Two appraisal wells have been drilled in the same area. Well 16/1-13, operated by Lundin, delineated the 16/1-8 discovery. The well confirmed the oil and water contact, and the extent of the discovery.

Just north of this, Det norske oljeselskap has delineated the 16/1-9 (Draupne) discovery, which was proven in 2008 by the 16/1-11 and 16/1-11 A wells. The results of the drilling activity were good, and there are development plans for both discoveries.  

Somewhat further south, Talisman has delineated the Grevling discovery near the Varg field. The discovery was proven in 2009 by wells 15/12-23 and 23 A.

Two new discoveries were made in the central section of the North Sea. Southeast of the Frigg field, Det norske oljeselskap has proved a minor oil discovery in the Frigg formation from the Eocene Age. The discovery was delineated by well 25/1-11.

Nearby, Total E&P Norge proved gas in well 25/5-7, close to the Heimdal field. The discovery was made in the Brent group in the Jurassic.

Using production well 30/4-D-1 H, further north and close to the border with the UK sector, Total has also delineated the old 30/7-6 (Hild) oil discovery, proven in 1978.

The results from the drilling activity are considered good, and the company is preparing development plans.  

Further north in the Gullfaks area, four new discoveries have been proven. Near the Snorre field, Statoil made two minor oil discoveries in wildcat wells 34/4-12 S and 34/12 12 A. The latter was drilled as a sidetrack. Both wells proved oil in the Lunde formation in Triassic rocks.   

In early 2010, northwest of these discoveries and in the same block, Petro-Canada proved oil in wildcat well 34/4-11 in the Brent group and in the Statfjord formation from the Jurassic Age. This discovery was recently delineated by well 34/4-13 S, and a formation test was run. The test was successful, showing that the reservoir has good flow properties. 

RWE Dea discovered oil in wildcat well 35/9-6 S, east of the Gjøa field. An appraisal well is needed to determine the actual size and extent of the discovery. In the northern part of the North Sea, northeast of the Snorre field, BG Norge made a discovery with wildcat well 34/5-1 S, which proved oil in the Cook formation from the Jurassic Age. This discovery is located near the 34/3-1 discovery, also made by BG Norge in 2009.

Six discoveries in the Norwegian Sea

Six discoveries were made in the Norwegian Sea, all near existing fields. Far to the south, near the Mikkel field, Statoil found gas and oil in well 6407/2-6 S in the Båt group from the Jurassic. Two new discoveries have been proven in the Åsgard area, both in the Fangst group in Jurassic rocks. Wintershall Norge discovered oil and gas in the southwestern part of the Åsgard area, in well 6406/3-6. In the northwest of the same area, Centrica Resources proved gas in well 6506/9-2.  

Due west of the Heidrun field, RWE Dea proved gas in well 6507/7-14 S. A 250-metre gas column was discovered in the Fangst group from the Jurassic, and a full-scale formation test has been carried out.

Further north, near the Skarv field, BP Norge discovered gas/condensate in well 6507/5-6 S. The discovery was made in the Lysing formation in Cretaceous rocks. In the far north of the area, northeast of the Norne field, Statoil proved oil and gas in well 6608/10-14 S. 

Norske Shell has drilled two exploration wells in the deepwater areas northwest in the Norwegian Sea. The first well delineated the 6603/12-1 (Gro) gas discovery, proven in 2009. The well proved gas in the Springar formation in the Upper Cretaceous. The results of the drilling activity have reduced expectations for the discovery. Northwest of the discovery in wildcat well 6603/5-1 S (Dalsnuten), no reservoir rocks were proven. Results from this drilling activity suggest that the area entails substantial exploration challenges.  

There has been little exploration activity in the Barents Sea, with only one wildcat well spudded.

The estimated number of spudded exploration wells in 2011 is 50-55, which represents a small increase from 2010. 

A total of 38 production licences were awarded in the Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) 2009. Blocks were announced for both APA 2010 and for the 21st licensing round, and the announcements were met with great interest on the parts of the companies. The plan is to announce the awards in the APA round in the 1st quarter, and for the 21st licensing round in the 2nd quarter.



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Updated: 13/01/2011