03 June 2014, News Wires – Statoil has finally kicked off drilling of a controversial wildcat at the Apollo prospect in the Barents Sea after Greenpeace protestors were removed from the area.
The 7324/2-1 probe has been spudded by semi-submersible Transocean Spitsbergen in Statoil-operated production licence 615 in the frontier Hoop area of the Arctic play, making it the northernmost well drilled to date off Norway.
Greenpeace activists last week boarded the rig to protest drilling of the well due to concerns that a potential oil spill could reach the Bear Island nature reserve about 175 kilometres farther north-west as well as encroach on the Arctic ice edge.
After they were removed by police, the green group’s support vessel Esperanza then occupied the drilling site before being towed away by a Norwegian Coast Guard ship, despite claims by Greenpeace this was a violation of maritime law.
The group had earlier lodged a complaint with Norway’s Environment Agency to halt the well, claiming it would be in breach of the country’s regulations for drilling near Arctic ice and that Statoil’s emergency back-up plan was inadequate.
The complaint was though rejected, paving the way for Statoil to drill the well that is targeting the Sto, Nordmela and Tubaaen formations in a water depth of 440 metres, with an estimated duration of 31 days.
Statoil operates the licence with a 35% stake, with partners ConocoPhillips (25%), OMV (20%) and Petoro (20%).