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Lloyds List: Statoil and Shell strike Norwegian Sea reserves

Martyn Wingrove
Published: Jul 12, 2007

STATOIL and Shell have found more hydrocarbon resources in the Norwegian Sea that will support further subsea-based projects in the region.

Exploration drilling over the last two months has led to Statoil discovering more gas reserves in the Asgard area of the Norwegian Sea, and Shell has found more hydrocarbon resources in its promising Onyx Southwest discovery with an appraisal well.

Statoil used semi-submersible rig Stena Don to drill on the Yttergryta prospect, 1 km east of the Midgard field, which is producing oil via the Asgard Alpha and Bravo floating production facilities.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate believes the discovery could hold 3bn cu m of recoverable gas reserves.

This discovery provides the state oil firm with another field development in the prolific area, which will require a new gas pipeline, and ensures the Asgard facilities are able to produce at high levels for several more years.

‘The well is promising, since additional resources were proven in a new structure, increasing the hope of further gas finds in the area close to Midgard,’‛ said Statoil’s head of Norwegian production Frode Fasteland.

Statoil has made the Yttergryta development a fast track project and was banking on its success by installing oilfield equipment ahead of drilling the exploration well.

‘To ensure the quickest possible development, considerable pre-investments have been made including the installation of a subsea template and preparations for a future gas pipeline to Midgard in advance of the well coming into production,’‛ said Mr Fasteland.

Statoil plans to complete this well as a producer and lay the pipeline early next year in water depths of around 300 m. It has a 31% stake in Yttergryta and its partners are French firm Total, Italy’s Eni and Oslo-listed Norsk Hydro.

To the south, Shell has found more gas reserves on Onyx SW in block 6406/9, which is 40 km northwest of the Draugen oil field. It drilled an appraisal well last month on the field using Seadrill’s semi-submersible West Alpha, which has now gone to work for Statoil.

The Anglo-Dutch oil major may have found between 30bn to 50bn cu m of recoverable gas reserves in the field, according to the NPD, but more exploration and appraisal wells will be needed in the block to create a stand-alone project.

Shell is hoping it can find enough reserves in an area once known as the President block because of its high potential but has had a mixed bag of success from the drilling of four exploratory wells.

If the NPD reserves estimate is accurate, then this discovery may have thesame resources as producing fields in the area that include Heidrun, Kristin and Mikkel.

The Norwegian government owns half of Onyx SW through the interests managed by Petoro and Statoil. Shell has 30% and Paris-based Total has the other 20%.

In the North Sea, Statoil has found up to 12m cu m of oil and gas resources in the Ermintrude discovery, supporting its plans to find and develop more oil off Norway.

The Oslo-listed firm intends to develop Ermintrude as a satellite to the nearby facilities Sleipner, Volve and Gudrun in conjunction with the close-by Dagny discovery.

‘This well reinforces our belief that Ermintrude can add valuable resources to the Sleipner area, and will be a contributor to our ambition of producing 1m barrels of oil equivalent per day from Norway until 2015,’‛ said Mr Fasteland.

Seadrill’s jack-up rig West Epsilon drilled the Ermintrude well and two sidetracks in 114 m of water, in block 15/6 which is 7 km north of Sleipner. The rig has been moved to drill an appraisal well on the Ragnarrock oil discovery in block 16/2.

Meanwhile Statoil has sold its 30% stake in the Trym oil discovery in the North Sea to Germany’s Bayerngas ahead of its merger with Norsk Hydro’s energy division. This sale could accelerate development of the Trym field with other fields that are the other side of the Danish border. Trym’s development may involve subsea wells tied back to the Harold platform.

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