More Irish wells
Two exploration wells are due to be drilled with Statoil participation west of Ireland this year.
An appraisal is planned in early May on the Corrib discovery in the Slyne Trough, where the group has a 15 per cent interest. This area lies in 350 metres of water, 70 kilometres west of Achill island.
And an exploration well is due to be drilled on the neighbouring Shannon structure in the same licence later in the year.
Gas was proven in Corrib during 1996, making this the second gas discovery found off Ireland since Kinsale came on stream in the Irish Sea more than 20 years ago.
An appraisal well in 1998 demonstrated very good reservoir properties. This year's well will be the third on the field, which is operated by Enterprise Oil and also has Saga Petroleum as a partner with 40 per cent.
"We expect the next well to confirm Corrib's commercial potential and to give us our first proper foothold off Ireland," says exploration manager Geir Haarr at Statoil Exploration (Ireland).
Prospects for finding gas in the Shannon structure are more uncertain, but Mr Haarr notes that a supplementary discovery here would help to boost the profitability of the area.
"This year's well will hopefully confirm the Slyne-Erris area off western Ireland as a gas province," he says. "Our aim is to start drilling next year in the neighbouring block, where we're the operator."
Statoil has interests in nine licences off Ireland, and operates four of them. With a gross exploration area of 12,666 square kilometres, the group has holdings in more acreage than any other oil company on the Irish continental shelf.