Barents Sea Exploration Collaboration
Some people think Equinor is drilling in the Arctic alongside icebergs and polar bears.
We only explore in completely open sea. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the ice edge can be 400–500 km away. That’s as far as Oslo to Bergen. This part of the Barents Sea has been ice-free in summer for at least 50 years. What's more, authority regulations require us to move the rigs if any ice gets closer than 50 km, so we will never be drilling in ice.
Many people have the impression that it’s dangerous and difficult to carry out drilling in the Arctic.
Drilling in the Barents Sea is actually little different from the rest of the Norwegian continental shelf, where we been safely exploring for oil for nearly 50 years. 130 wells have already been drilled in the Barents Sea, with no serious incidents. Even so, we upgraded our emergency preparedness significantly.
Some people think the technology isn’t reliable or good enough to explore safely so far north.
Safety is always our first priority, and the Barents Sea is no exception. We use the most modern drilling rigs available, with advanced monitoring and automated drilling control. They are equipped with the latest safety and purification systems. The rigs have support 24/7 from supply and emergency vessels.
Some people think the planet cannot cope with even one more oil field.
Equinor is fully committed to the Paris Agreement, and we’re growing our offshore wind power business. At the same time, the world needs more energy than renewables can provide. Existing oil production is dwindling. Even in the two-degree scenario, more oil is needed, just to maintain supply. That’s why we’re exploring for more fields.
Some people think Arctic oil will be uneconomical to produce, and Norway will suffer major economic losses.
Discoveries in the Barents Sea can lead to significant economic development, nationally and locally. Based on our understanding of the geology, we hope to find high quality light oil that’s in demand—and better for the climate.The wells we drill in the Barents Sea are cheaper than many others, thanks to the geology and shallower waters.
We have sufficient high quality data sources on the physical conditions in the southeast Barents Sea to carry out sound and thorough assessments prior to drilling exploration wells.
West Hercules and Songa Enabler are two of the most advanced drilling rigs available today, equipped with the very best safety and purification systems, fully-automated computer control of the drilling operations, and heated decks and superstructure. Their environmental footprint is minimal and they emit no harmful substances to the sea. Did you know that we even purify the rainwater?
The rigs have been designed to withstand extreme cold, with heated decks, walkways and superstructures.
If rainwater from the deck contains more than 5 ppm of oil, it is automatically purified on board.
Any contaminated waste water is collected in tanks on board for later purification ashore.
Wherever we operate, we always have emergency preparedness on standby. But since parts of our Barents exploration programme will be taking place quite far from shore, we will be taking additional measures to upgrade our emergency preparedness for the duration of the exploration campaign. This involves the use of standby vessels with towing capacity, supply vessels, man overboard (MOB) rescue boats, a hospital, a NOFO oil recovery system, a search and rescue (SAR) helicopter and SAR camera, as well as a helipad on the rig.
A cooperation agreement has been entered with Eni for additional ad hoc emergency preparedness, while all operators on the Norwegian continental shelf are contractually committed through NOROG to assist each other with available capacity should an emergency arise. This means that other rigs operating in the Barents Sea at the same time as Equinor could be mobilised if necessary.
The following resources will be deployed during the exploration campaign:
Skandi Mongstad will accompany West Hercules as a dedicated standby vessel throughout the exploration campaign, and is equipped as follows:
Supply vessels: North Barents and Rem Hrist.
Viking Avant will accompany the rig during the Skruis drilling.
Norman Leader: combined emergency standby and supply vessel