Barents Sea Exploration Collaboration
Some people think Equinor is drilling in the Arctic alongside icebergs and polar bears.
Equinor has no desire or intention to operate where ice is present. We will only explore in completely open sea, and thanks to the Gulf Stream, the ice edge can be as far away as 400–500 km away. That’s as far as Oslo to Bergen. And in line with regulatory requirements we will stop operations in oil-bearing strata, or move the rig, if any ice gets closer than 50 km.
Many people have the impression that it’s dangerous and difficult to carry out drilling in the Arctic.
Drilling in the Barents Sea is little different from the rest of the Norwegian shelf, where we been safely exploring for oil for nearly 50 years. More than 150 wells have already been drilled in the Barents Sea, with no serious incidents.
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 are assessed and matured towards a potential final investment decision in accordance with standard economic procedures and criteria as discoveries in other areas. The economics of discoveries in the Barents Sea is by default neither worse nor better than any other, all discoveries have their own characteristics.
How much ice is there where we plan to drill? How likely are icebergs? And where exactly is the ice edge? We asked Equinor’s expert on Arctic ice and meteorology, Kenneth Johannessen Eik, to explain.
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.
We are exploring in the open sea, up to 500 km from the ice edge
Kenneth Johannessen Eik, Equinor
West Hercules is a fully-winterised rig with extensive experience from drilling operations in cold climates and Arctic areas. It can be used in summer or winter, and has been used for several seasons in the Barents Sea.
Transocean Enabler is also specially-designed for operations in cold climates and meets the most stringest environmental requirements, DNVGL’s ”Clean Design” classification. It is equipped with the 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.