Oil Majors Team Up to Map New Area of Norwegian Arctic

Seismic vessel Ramford Vanguard. (Photo: Ole Jørgen Bratland)
Seismic vessel Ramford Vanguard. (Photo: Ole Jørgen Bratland)

A group comprised of 17 oil and gas companies has established a project for joint seismic acquisition of a new area in the southeastern Barents Sea set to open in 2014.

The project will be lead by Statoil as operator.

At the request of the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE), the industry, via the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, has taken the initiative to jointly acquire seismic 3D data from the blocks in the southeastern Barents Sea that will be announced in the 23rd licensing round for the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) in 2014.

This will be the first new area on the NCS to be opened since 1994.

A total of thirty companies showed interest in participating in such a collaboration and, on Monday, 17 of them signed on to the joint project for planning and implementing the acquisition. As the largest operator on the Norwegian shelf, Statoil has taken on the operator role.

“Coordinated seismic acquisition has several advantages. It will ensure very good data quality, since the industry to a much greater extent will be able to utilise the companies’ collective professional expertise within geological understanding and seismic acquisition and processing. The initiative lays the foundation for fewer, well-planned operations, thus reducing acquisition costs and potential disadvantages for the fishing industry,” says Gro G. Haatvedt, Statoil’s senior vice president for exploration on the NCS.

“Interest in the Barents Sea has increased considerably in recent years, due in part to the discoveries in the Johan Castberg area. High-quality 3D data will be important to the industry in order to increase understanding of the area’s potential.”

Statoil announced Monday a new discovery in the Barents Sea in the Skavl prospect, close to Johan Castberg, estimated to contain 20-50 million barrels of recoverable oil.

The companies who will be taking part are BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Det norske oljeselskap, Eni, GDF Suez, Idemitsu, Lukoil, Lundin, Norske Shell, PGNiG, Repsol, Spike, Statoil, Suncor, VNG and Wintershall. Statoil added that when the authorities circulate the 23rd round nominated blocks for public consultation, other oil companies will get a new opportunity to engage in the project and it is expected that others will likely sign on.

Statoil says that project will immediately initiate a tender process for the seismic acquisition, with the current plan calling for seismic surveys to start in April 2014 and conclude in the fall.

On Monday, Statoil announced a new discovery in the Barents Sea in the Skavl prospect, close to Johan Castberg, estimated to contain 20-50 million barrels of recoverable oil.