OSLO, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Austrian energy firm OMV found up to 164 million barrels of recoverable oil in Norway's Arctic, one of the first discoveries in a still-unexplored frontier region that is set to become a hotbed of activity in coming years.
OMV found between 63 million and 164 million barrels of oil in the relatively shallow parts of the Barents Sea, in Norway's northernmost discovery, around 310 km (190 miles) north of the country's coast and near Statoil's Johan Castberg find, it said in a statement on Friday.
The find, which also includes up to 40 billion cubic feet of gas, is a big boost for the region after Statoil put its 600- million-barrel, $15.5 billion Castberg project on hold this year because of rising costs.
Statoil said it would instead study a new development concept for Castberg and drill more, hoping to find additional oil to improve the project's viability.
OMV said its licence, including the new find and potential future discoveries in adjacent prospects, could hold up to 500 million barrels of oil, which would make it the second-biggest find to date in the region.
Statoil itself is also drilling more in the region, planning to explore its Apollo and Atlantis prospects next year and potentially adding more resources to its Barents find.
Norway's Barents Sea is set to become a key exploration area after the government awarded 20 Arctic licences in June and said its next licencing round would focus on the eastern parts of its section, which has been off limits to oil firms until now.
OMV said it needs to drill more to confirm the find's potential and will immediately move to a new well on a nearby formation.
OMV operates the new discovery and holds 25 percent. Other shareholders include Japan's Idemitsu (20 percent), Norwegian state-holding firm Petoro (20 percent), London-listed Tullow Oil (20 percent) and Statoil (15 percent).
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