Equinor Strikes Oil in Barents Sea

File photo of the West Hercules semi-submersible rig. Credit: Ole Jørgen Bratland / Equinor

Norway-based Equinor says it has struck oil in the Sputnik exploration well located on the Norwegian Continental Shelf in the Barents Sea.

Recoverable resources are estimate at between 20 million and 65 million barrels of light oil, Equinor said.

The Sputnik well was drilled in licence PL855, approximately 30km north-east of the Wisting discovery. The well encountered a 15 meter oil column in a Triassic sandstone reservoir, with fluid samples containing light oil and water.

“We are encouraged by this result as it confirms the presence of oil north of the Wisting discovery, where Equinor has acquired a strong acreage position,” says Nick Ashton, Equinor’s senior vice president for exploration in Norway and the UK.

“The geology in the Barents Sea is complex, and more work lies ahead to determine commerciality. But this discovery shows that persistence and our ability to learn from previous well results does pay off,” says Ashton.

Equinor is currently exploring four licenses in the Barents Sea awarded by the Norwegian Ministry of Energy and Petroleum. The company in 2017 made a very small, uncommercial oil discovery in Gemini Nord well within the PL855 license. In 2018, a larger discovery was found in the neighboring PL615 license, with the Intrepid Eagle well, which proved a 200 meter gas column but no oil. The Sputnik well, which is the second well in PL855, has proven oil in a large channel system, according to Equinor.

“Detailed fluid analysis combined with geological and geophysical mapping will be carried out to fully understand the commercial potential of the Sputnik discovery. If confirmed that the structure comprises volumes that can be recovered in a commercially viable way, the partnership will assess possible development solutions,” Nick Ashton says.

The Sputnik well (7324/6-1) was drilled to a vertical depth of 1,569 meters below the seabed by semi-submersible drilling rig West Hercules, which has now moved on to drill the Equinor-operated Lanterna well in PL796 in the Norwegian Sea.

Equinor is operator and holds 55% of the PL855 licence. Partners include OMV (25%) and Petoro (20%).