Norway’s Equinor hits dry well in promising area near Russian border

The West Hercules drilling rig leaves Skipavika, Norway April 1, 2018. (Gwladys Fouche/Reuters)
The Norwegian company found no oil in the well located a few kilometers from the border to Russia.

The well has been permanently plugged and abandoned, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate says. The drilling was conducted with semisubmersible rig West Hercules and took place about 175 km north of Vardø, the north Norwegian town. Water depths in the area are 293 meter.

The distance to the Russian border is only about 50 km.

The oilmen drilled to a vertical depth of 852 meters below the sea surface. No hydrocarbons were discovered, the Directorate says.

The area has got the name Gjøkåsen Deep and is part of license 857 granted to Equinor and partners Aker BP, Lundin Norway and Petoro in 2016.

Problems from the get-go

Equinor started the drilling operation on site in early January. It has not proceeded without problems. Just few days after operation launch a package on a blowout preventer was unintentionally disconnected and work therefore had to be halted. Hopes were high among the oilmen. The license area is part of the region that until 2010 was disputed ground to Russia and exploration has been sparse.

Norway has over the last years conducted extensive seismic mapping, and Bente Nyland, leader of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, in 2012 said that the collected data gave her “stars in the eyes.”

Fedynsky High is the name of the area that stretches across parts of the Norwegian-Russian maritime border. The area is believed to hold a significant hydrocarbon potential. Russian oil company Rosneft holds licenses to the waters located on the Russian side of the border.

The West Hercules has now moved to another drill site in the license area.

Despite the high expectations, no major discovery has yet been made in the area.

Equinor in August 2017 drilled a wildcat well located on 74 degrees north, only about 35 km from the border. Results however showed only a minor gas discovery not profitable for development.

Related stories from around the North:

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

Norway: Norway ramps up oil and gas production in Arctic despite looming climate crisis, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Arctic LNG shipments: Russia’s Deputy PM supports exemptions for Novatek, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Drilling opponents in U.S. House launch bill to close ANWR, 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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