Despite striking out at four out of five exploration wells in its 2017 Barents Sea drilling campaign, Norwegian state oil firm Statoil plans to return to drill at another five sites next year. Only one of the firm's Barents wells yielded a discovery, a small 50 million barrel find that is not commercially viable on its own.
“This year’s campaign didn’t give the results we have hoped for in terms of having new standalone developments, but we are going to continue to explore the Barents Sea and already have firm plans to drill five wells in the Barents Sea in 2018,” a spokesman told Reuters. “Of course, we are disappointed, given that we hoped for better results this year.”
The Norwegian government has proposed to auction an additional 93 lease blocks in the Barents, extending the possibilities for further exploration, and Statoil remains optimistic. Dan Tuppen, the firm's head of exploration for the Barents Sea, told the Barents Observer that the firm will definitely return to drill another five wells in 2018. In the meantime, the firm's chartered harsh environment rig, the Songa Enabler, will perform an intervention campaign at the AkerBP-operated Skarv field.
Competitors Eni and Lundin Petroleum have not fared better in recent Barents campaigns. In late September, Lundin's Borselv prospect in block PL609 turned out to be dry, and a test well southwest of Eni's Goliat project also struck out. Still, past campaigns have shown that the region has commercial potential: Goliat's resevoirs contain about 200 million barrels, and Rosneft's Prirazlomnoye field in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea contains about 600 million barrels.
Statoil reported slightly better exploration results this year on the UK Continental Shelf, where the firm and its partners made an oil discovery at the Verbier well in the outer Moray Firth, a bay off the north coast of Scotland. The well contains between 25 and 130 million barrels, and Statoil is determining whether it is commercially viable.