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Wildcat in new area

October 5, 2000, 18:00 CEST

The West Navion drill ship has spudded the first wildcat today, 5 October, in the new Nordland VI exploration province of the Norwegian Sea.

"We're testing a new exploration model, and the probability of making a find is relatively low," explains Espen Granberg, who is responsible for surveying the area. "If we do make a strike, however, it could be a substantial discovery."

The new model focuses on rocks younger than those previously targeted by exploration drilling in the northern Norwegian Sea. A possible reservoir may lie in a structure known as Hedda.

Nordland VI, which lies south-west of Røst in the Lofoten islands, was opened for oil exploration by the Storting (parliament) in 1994.

Extensive studies were conducted in 1989-93 to chart the potential impact of offshore operations on the environment, natural resources and the local community.

The waters off Lofoten are among Norway's most important breeding grounds for seabirds, as well as supporting extensive fish farming and fishing operations.

Mr Granberg reports that the authorities have imposed drilling restrictions to protect the environment during its most vulnerable period of the year.

Well 6710/10-1 is expected to take about 30 days to complete. West Navion will then move to spud an exploration well near Statoil's Norne field in the Norwegian Sea.

Statoil has a 40 per cent interest in production licence 220, while the state's direct financial interest (SDFI) holds 30 per cent, Amerada Hess 15 per cent and Fortum Petroleum 15 per cent.