As per 15 June 2004, 12 exploration wells were spudded on the Norwegian shelf - five appraisal wells and seven wildcat wells. Three wells are currently being drilled.
"We expect exploration activity for the whole of 2004 to be slightly above 20 exploration wells," says Bente Nyland.
The North Sea
So far this year, two new oil discoveries have been made in the North Sea: Esso has discovered oil in well 16/1-7 west of Utsirahøgda, in rocks of the Jurassic age. Additional analyses and studies are required to evaluate the discovery's size, but so far it seems promising in terms of commerciality.
Norsk Hydro has quite surprisingly discovered a new, smaller oil zone in the Jurassic layer in development well 31/4-A-30B on the Brage field. The oil zone is located in a deeper stratigraphic layer than the field's main reservoir. Even if the size of the discovery is just below 1 million Sm3, it represents a significant additional resource that can quickly be connected to the production.
South of the Heimdal field, in rocks of the Tertiary age, Marathon has delimited discoveries 24/9-5 and 24/9-6, which originally were disocvered by Fina Exploration in 1993 and 1994. The discoveries are now delimited with the wells 24/9-7, 7A, 7B and 7C.
"Hydrocarbons were discovered in all the four appraisal wells and the results are encouraging since the drillings were made in a play that is difficult to explore in this area. The reservoir is located in so-called injector sands, i.e. sand that under certain geological conditions moves upwards and into the overlying geological layers," says Nyland.
The discovered resources are now assessed as a possible addition to the Alvheim discoveries, which are planned for development in the near future. The Norwegian Sea
A new oil discovery has been proven in the Norwegian Sea. Statoil has discovered oil in exploration well 6608/11-4, which was drilled on the Linerle prospect about 25 kilometers northeast of the Norne field. The discovery is located in Jurassic rocks. Here an extensive collection of cores, logs and fluid samples was carried out. The information from the well is now being evaluated in order to estimate the discovery's size, and preliminary analyses indicate that this could be promising.
In addition, Statoil has delimited the Alve discovery with well 65-7/3-4. The Alve discovery lies about ten kilometers southwest of the Norne field and was proven in 1990. The discovery is a gas- and condensate discovery of the Jurassic age. The well has increased the discovery's resource base.
Two dry wells
Only two of the exploration wells that were spudded in 2004 have been completed without discovery.
In January, Statoil completed exploration well 6507/8-7 in production license 124, approximately 170 km off the coast of Helgeland. The well was drilled in a structure called Kappa, which lies approximately 1 km south-east of the Heidrun field, but no traces of hydrocarbons were found.
In April, Norske Shell completed the drilling of exploration well 26/4-2 in production license 266, approximately 110 km off the Norwegian coast between Haugesund and Bergen. The well was drilled to evaluate a sandstone prospect of the Palaeocene Age called "Beluga", but it turned out to be dry.
"The fact that only a few dry wells are drilled, is not necessarily a good thing," Nyland remarks. "The situation can also be interpreted as a growing reluctance to take risks. Following the 17th Licensing Round, for instance, only one well has been drilled in the areas allocated at the time."
Three drillings in progress
As of today there is activity in three exploration wells.
These are Statoil's well 34/10-48 S in the Gullfaks area, Hydro's well 30/11-6 in the Oseberg area and Shell's well 6406/9-1 in the Norwegian Sea.
"Well 6406/9-1 is the second of the so-called '"President blocks", which were allocated in the 16th Licensing Round, and the drilling is expected to yield considerable results. The results from the drilling are expected to be available in September," says Bente Nyland.
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