Statoil's Exploration Chief Sees More Drilling Offshore US, Russia


LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Norway's Statoil will probably continue with its exploration work offshore the United States, despite an unsuccessful campaign so far, and is also expecting to undertake more drilling in Russia, the company's exploration chief told Reuters on Tuesday.

As a junior partner, Statoil has interests in several discoveries in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico but despite spending billions of dollars it has failed to strike oil in drilling campaigns where it has been the operator.

"We don't have any plans to divest ... But on the exploration side we have to make a call on whether we are to continue, and I assume that we will," Tim Dodson told Reuters on the sidelines of an investor conference in London.

Dodson said a final decision on the company's U.S. Gulf of Mexico plans will come within a few weeks.

The company plans to drill five to seven wells in the Barents Sea in 2017 and will continue its campaign in 2018.

"We don't have any fixed plans yet, but we have candidates. Independently of the drilling results this year, we will probably have to drill three wells in the Barents Sea next year," Dodson said.

Meanwhile Statoil has started to explore for hard to extract oil at a prospect in central Russia with state-controlled oil company Rosneft.

Dodson said Statoil plans to drill two wells in the Domanik formation in the Samara region this year, including one which has been spudded recently.

While results should not be expected this year as the production potential will have to be tested by fracking the wells, the geology is promising, he added.

"The Bakken formation in the U.S. is quite similar. It's not identical, but quite similar," Dodson said.

Rosneft has previously said that the two companies would drill three exploratory horizontal wells in the Samara region by 2020.

A Statoil presentation showed the company was also expecting output to start in 2022 from Russia's North-Komsomolskoye heavy oil discovery in west Siberia, where Statoil has partnered with Rosneft.

Statoil agreed with Rosneft in 2012 to jointly explore frontier areas in Russia and Norway, but offshore drilling was put on hold due to the Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.

(Writing by Terje Solsvik in Oslo; Editing by Gwladys Fouche, Greg Mahlich)


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