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Statoil stepping up activities in the Arctic; to drill 9 wells in 2013 campaign, triple Arctic technology budget

Statoil is stepping up its Arctic activities and will drill nine wells during a non-stop 2013 Norwegian Barents exploration campaign. The company plans to meet development challenges here by tripling its Arctic technology research budget.

Statoil already has extensive exploration experience in the Barents; of the 94 exploration wells drilled in the Norwegian Barents Sea so far, Statoil has been involved in 89.

After our Skrugard and Havis discoveries we still see attractive opportunities here. This is a less challenging area, as the Norwegian Barents is one of the only Arctic areas with a year-round ice-free zone. We also see the possibility of utilizing knowledge gained here for Arctic prospects elsewhere later on—just like we’ve already done with Snøhvit.

—Statoil Exploration executive vice president Tim Dodson

Statoil will start drilling in Nunatak in the Skrugard area in December, and will drill and complete four wells in this area over a six-month period. The campaign will then continue with the drilling of two-three wells in the Hoop frontier exploration area further north in the Barents in the summer of 2013. These will be the northernmost wells ever drilled in Norway.

The 2013 Barents drilling campaign finishes in the most mature province of the Barents: the Hammerfest basin. Statoil will carry out growth exploration close to the existing Snøhvit and Goliat discoveries here.

In addition to increasing its drilling activities, Statoil has created a technology road map to prepare for activities in even harsher Arctic areas. This includes:

  • A tripling of the current Arctic research budget from NOK 80 million (US$13.8 million) in 2012 to NOK 250 million (US$43 million) in 2013;

  • A research cruise to north east Greenland in September; and

  • The maturing of an Arctic drill unit concept.

Some of the technology highlights include work to allow for cost-effective 3D seismic for exploration prospect evaluation in ice, and the continuing development of a tailor-made, Arctic drill unit. The work on the future drilling unit is based on Statoil’s experience with developing specialized category rigs for the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).

The unit will be one that can operate in a wide range of water depths across the Arctic, and will involve integrated operations in drifting ice.

Functions here are to include a management system to reduce ice impact, an optimized drilling package for faster drilling and increased rig availability, and solutions to ensure that the rig maintains its position. At present no robust solution for dynamic positioning dedicated for ice operation exists.

When we see a technology need, we try to fill the gap ourselves. We have now directed our strategic focus towards developing technology for exploration and production in ice. A new dedicated unit has been established to solve these challenges.

—Statoil Technology, Projects and Drilling executive vice president Margareth Øvrum


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