"This discovery is encouraging," comments Tim Dodson, the group's senior vice president for exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf.
"It strengthens opportunities for expanding the Snohvit gas liquefaction facility at Melkoya, and therefore marks an important stage in efforts to enlarge the resource base in the area."
However, further development of the Hammerfest LNG plant would call for more gas than Tornerose can potentially contribute, and Statoil has a busy exploration plan for the Barents Sea.
"The Tornerose discovery confirms that we're heading in the right direction," says Mr Dodson. "This structure is viable."
Drilled by Polar Pioneer in 408 meters of water, exploration well 7122/6-2 in production license 110B proved gas in several sandstone layers from the late Triassic.
It was drilled to a total measured depth of 3,057 meters below sea level about 60 kilometers east of the Statoil-operated Snohvit field and roughly 100 kilometers north-west of Hammerfest.
This phase of the work on Tornerose is due to be completed on September 19th, when the well will be permanently plugged and abandoned.
However, Statoil is planning to drill further wells in the Snohvit area next year and in 2008.
Polar Pioneer will now move to Eni to drill appraisal well 7122/7-4 on the Goliat structure in production license 229, where Statoil is also a licensee.
The group has a 33.53% interest in Tornerose. Its partners are Petoro (30%), Total E&P Norge (18.4%), Gaz de France Norge (12%) Hess Norge (3.26%) and RWE Dea Norge (2.81%).
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