Statoil to drill more exploration wells in 2017

Norwegian state-owned oil giant Statoil plans to drill around 30 exploration wells in 2017, an increase of around 30 percent compared to 2016.

More than half of the wells will be drilled on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), Statoil said on Wednesday.

“Taking advantage of our own improvements and changed market conditions, we have been able to get more wells, more acreage and more seismic data for our exploration investments in later years,” says Tim Dodson, Executive Vice President for Exploration in Statoil.

“This allows us to firm up a strong drilling program for 2017, totaling around 30 exploration wells as operator and partner. The upcoming well program is balanced between proven, well-known basins and new frontier opportunities,” says Dodson, underlining that the exploration drilling plans are dependent on permitting, rig availability, and partner approvals.

In 2016, Statoil completed a total of 23 exploration wells as operator and partner – 14 of them on the NCS. The company stated that the total exploration activity, also including a.o. licensing, access and seismic data acquisitions, was completed well below the original forecast due to efficiency improvements and market effects.

According to the company, in Norway, the 5-7 well exploration campaign in the Barents Sea is at the core of the activity plan. In the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea, the ambition is to prove near field volumes to prolong the productive lifetime of existing infrastructure and determine the growth potential, Statoil said.

In total, Statoil expects 16-18 NCS exploration wells to be completed in 2017. The company noted that new discoveries are crucial to counteract decline om the NCS.

“The Barents Sea has yielded several of Norway’s most significant oil discoveries in recent years. We are looking forward to test new targets, both in the relatively well-known geology around in the Johan Castberg and Hoop/Wisting area, as well as some new frontier opportunities with greater geological uncertainty but also high impact potential. This campaign can provide us with crucial information about the long term future of the Norwegian shelf,” says Dodson.

Internationally, Statoil’s 2017 exploration drilling activity will comprise growth opportunities in basins where Statoil already is established with discoveries and producing fields, as well as new frontier opportunities.

“Following our take-over as operator for the Carcara discovery last summer, Brazil has become even more important in Statoil’s portfolio, not least on the exploration front. We are stepping up exploration also in the UK, with plans for three Statoil-operated exploration wells in 2017,” says Dodson.

Elsewhere, partner operated wells are planned to be spudded in established basins like the US Gulf of Mexico and in new frontier areas like Indonesia and Suriname. Statoil is also partnering in onshore exploration drilling planned in Russia and Turkey.

“The 2017 exploration plans demonstrate our long-term commitment to the NCS, while we continue to position the company for global opportunities. If everything goes to plan, we will this year have exploration drilling activity in 11 countries on five continents,” says Dodson.

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