Even deeper off Angola
Interest has been expressed by Statoil in securing a stake in block 31 off Angola, where the water depth is 1,700-2,000 metres.
This acreage lies west of block 15 at the northern end of the Angolan continental shelf. Statoil is already a licensee in blocks 15 and 17, where substantial oil reserves have been proven.
"In cooperation with BP Amoco, we've concluded that participation in block 31 would be interesting," says Jon Bakken, head of the group's Angola operations.
"We received signals in 1997 that both BP Amoco and Statoil were placed to secure holdings in this deepwater licence. BP Amoco could be named operator."
He hopes the authorities will decide during the first quarter which companies should have an interest and how large their holdings should be. Applicants are currently in the second round of a two-stage bidding process.
Should Statoil secure a stake in this acreage, Mr Bakken does not believe drilling in such water depths will pose particular challenges. Bringing possible finds on stream represents more of a job, which could call for further development of production solutions intended for shallower areas.
"The riser design planned for Elf's Girassol field in block 17 has great potential for use in even deeper water," says Mr Bakken. Block 17 discoveries lie in depths of 1,300-1,400 metres.
Recent fighting between government troops and the Unita rebels has not directly affected Statoil's operations in Angola, Mr Bakken reports.
"We take a serious view of the position and feel developments in this country have recently taken a very regrettable turn. They represent a disaster for the population."
Girassol is the only discovery made with Statoil participation off Angola to be scheduled for development. Plans call for the field to come off stream in 2001.