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Making Barents Sea safer

November 3, 1998, 08:00 CET

A new partnership has been established by six oil companies to make operations in the Barents Sea safer and more effective.

The Norwegian Barents Sea exploration collaboration (Nobales) links Statoil, Saga Petroleum, Elf, Agip, Norsk Hydro and Mobil, which were all awarded acreage in these waters last year.

"By working together, we can strengthen emergency response arrangements for people and the environment," says regional vice president Yngve Vassmyr at Statoil's Harstad office in northern Norway.

The group became operator for seismic surveying of a 5,041 square kilometre region in the Finnmark East area of the Barents Sea last year, and it and other companies shot extensive surveys over their acreage this summer.

A decision on drilling will be taken in 1999, and Mr Vassmyr believes the first exploration wells could be spudded early in the following year.

Nobales has two sub-groups, one working on health, the environment and safety, and the other focused on providing information to such parties as the authorities, the fishing industry and interest organisations.

No exploration wells have been drilled in Norway's sector of the Barents Sea since 1994. An appraisal well is planned for the Snøhvit field on the Tromsø Patch off Finnmark county next year, reports Mr Vassmyr.