16 April 2014, News Wires – Statoil is reported to have confirmed a third well to be drilled as part of its upcoming exploration campaign in the frontier Hoop area of the Barents Sea, with the Mercury prospect now also firmly in its sights.
The state-owned explorer already has the semi-submersible Transocean Spitsbergen lined up to drill a pair of wildcats at the Apollo and Atlantis prospects in its operated production licence 615, kicking off with the 7125/4-3 probe at Apollo due to be spudded next month.
The wells, to be sunk south about 175 kilometres south-east of the Bear Island nature reserve, will be the northernmost ever drilled off Norway and have sparked environmental concerns over a potential oil spill that could encroach on the Arctic ice edge farther north.
Statoil also intends to drill later this summer the third well at Mercury, located farther south in its operated PL614 in the vicinity of OMV’s Wisting Central discovery in PL537, according to a presentation to Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority cited by business daily Dagens Neringsliv.
A Statoil spokesman said the same rig would be used to drill at Mercury.
Statoil has defined the Hoop area as part of the “workable Arctic” where it considers it is environmentally safe to carry out drilling, although it cites challenges of working in the aree such as emergency response times, oil spill response, the proximity of the ice edge and the need for a relief rig in the event of a blowout.
The company is apparently though preparing to take on greater Arctic challenges, with its head of security and sustainability for northern areas, Lill Brusdal, quoted as saying: “We operate today in areas defined as workable, but are positioning ourselves for the next step.”
OMV has meanwhile now spudded a further wildcat at Wisting targeting the Hanssen prospect – formerly named Wisting Main – in the Hoop-Maud basin, after an earlier appraisal came up dry.
The latest well, being drilled by semisub Transocean Barents, is targeting a total depth of 1700 metres in a water depth of 418 metres, with an estimated duration of 100 days in the event of a discovery.
The Austrian explorer is seeking to prove up between 200 million and 500 million barrels of resources at the find, which would make it of equivalent size to Statoil’s Johan Castberg discovery in the Barents.