Norway’s Equinor to drill for oil near Russian Barents

The West Hercules platform. (Statoil/The Canadian Press)
The Norwegian company did not find oil on 74 degrees north. Now, hopes are high for the upcoming well located only few kilometers from Russia.

Equinor found only modest volumes of natural gas in the far northern wildcat well it drilled this fall. According to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, preliminarily estimates indicate up to 20 billion standard cubic meters of recoverable gas. That is not sufficient for field development.

The well is one of the northernmost ever drilled on the Norwegian continental shelf. It is located near the 74th parallel, about 320 km north of North Cape. It is part of license 615, which was awarded to Equinor and its partners in 2011. The company in 2014 spud the first well in the license. That resulted in a minor discovery later named Atlantis.

Equinor has had a series of unsuccessful well drillings in the Barents Sea. In 2017, the company had its most active Barents Sea drilling campaign ever. But discoveries were few and small.

The 857 license area in the Barents Sea (Norwegian Petroleum Directorate)

New acreage has been opened, like the Korpfjell license area located on 74 degrees North along the maritime border to Russia. But here results have also been disappointing.

Drilling near the border

Now, Equinor pins its hopes on its upcoming drilling in license 615, an area located on 71 degrees North, about 170 km north of the Varanger Peninsula. It is one of the easternmost wells ever drilled on the country’s continental shelf. The maritime border to Russia is only about 50 km away.

According to the Petroleum Directorate, the necessary drilling permission has now been granted and the West Hercules platform will soon move into the area. The license is operated by Equinor (40%) in cooperation with partners Aker BP (20%), Lundin Norway (20%) and Petoro (20%).

The license was granted to the company in 2016 as part of the 23rd Norwegian License Round. It is one of several Norwegian wells that will be drilled along the Russian border.

Equinor is due to spud more wells in its Korpfjell area, and AkerBP is operator of license 858, which is located directly along the border line, adjacent to Rosneft’s huge Fedynsky license area.

In a seminar in Kirkenes, Arctic Norway, AkerBP representative Terje Solheim confirmed that his company plans to drill a well in the area in June 2019. The area, that has got the name Stangnestind is located about 300 km north of the Varanger Peninsula. Among the partners in the drilling is Russian company Lukoil.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Oil production returns after two-year pause in Norman Wells, northern Canada, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s first silver mine to start production next year, Yle News

Norway: Equinor strikes oil near Johan Castberg field in Norwegian Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Fossil fuels drive shipping boom along Northern Sea Route, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden reluctantly greenlights construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Radio Sweden

United States: US Gov preparing for oil exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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