Increasing exploration activity

January 20, 2006, 13:15 CET

With plans to drill 30-40 exploration wells in 2006, this will be an active exploration year for Statoil, both on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) and internationally.

The group expects to drill 15-20 exploration wells on the NCS in 2006. Statoil will operate about half the wells.

Statoil participated, as operator and partner, in 13 completed wells in 2005, about half of which are exploration extensions. Hydrocarbons have been proven in nine of these – seven in the North Sea and two in the Norwegian Sea.

"We have secured rig capacity so that we can increase drilling activity," says Tim Dodson, senior vice president for NCS exploration. "This year we will benefit from having secured long-term contracts for exploration rigs at an early stage. We have a good basis for increased exploration, but we still need constant access to new exploration acreage to maintain a high level of activity over time."

Due to the increased activity, the group recruited about 100 new exploration personnel last year.

"Finding hydrocarbons on the NCS is becoming more and more demanding," continues Mr Dodson. "If we are to continue to succeed, able employees and hard work over a long period of time will be critical success factors."

Internationally Statoil is planning, as operator and partner, to drill more wells this year than last. In 2005 the group participated in 12 exploration wells, against the 17 originally planned. Nine finds have been confirmed. Several wells have been postponed until this year. Plans call for 15-20 exploration wells to be drilled this year.

Statoil has operatorships in Algeria, Venezuela and the Faroes, and plans to drill in these countries in 2006.

Last year the group acquired 11 new licences on the Faroes, in Libya, Nigeria, Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico.

"We competed on a global stage for many of these licences and won," says Bill Maloney, senior vice president for global exploration in the International Exploration & Production business area.

"In 2006, it will still be important to obtain more licences, so that the positive trend from last year continues."