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Drilling plans for Barents Sea

September 22, 1999, 10:00 CEST

Proposals for drilling an exploration well in the Barents Sea off northern Norway next summer have been put forward by Statoil.

The group is one of five oil companies with operatorships in these waters - the others are Norsk Hydro, Mobil, Agip and Elf - which have technically matured four-five prospects for potential drilling.

"We're likely to be the first to spud, on our production licence 202 in the North Cape Basin," reports vice president Yngve Vassmyr at Statoil's north Norwegian exploration office in Harstad. "That'd be next August."

Exploration drilling on this acreage next year is conditional on the agreement of licence partners Amerada Hess and Saga Petroleum, who have interests of 25 and 20 per cent respectively.

Statoil will make the Transocean Arctic rig available for a possible well, and is hoping that the other operators will spud on their acreage in order to permit a major drilling campaign in the area.

The five oil companies, who all received their operatorships in a 1997 licensing round restricted to these waters, belong to the Norwegian Barents Sea joint exploration venture (Nobales).

A good deal of seismic was shot over the area last year, but no wells have been drilled in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea since 1994. Roughly 50 wells before then had failed to justify a field development.

"We still see opportunities for finding oil in these waters," says Mr Vassmyr.