Statoil Applies for Barents Sea Drilling Permit

An application for an emission permit to drill on the Uranus prospect in the Barents Sea has been submitted by Statoil to the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT).

This exploration well will be second in the most environment-friendly drilling campaign ever conducted on the Norwegian continental shelf. Statoil's request for a permit is accompanied by an environmental risk analysis and emergency response plan for the operation.

The application is based on the principles enshrined in the recent impact assessment for offshore operations in the northern Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.

These require the well to be planned with no discharges to the sea except with the hole section for surface casing – in other words, the topmost 400 meters.

Discharges in the latter case will consist largely of natural substances such as salt and clay. But it will be necessary to emit about two kilograms of pipe dope, a small portion of which is characterized as environmentally harmful. Since the amount is so small, this is considered acceptable.

The well will utilize water-based mud, and drill cuttings are to be shipped to land.

Statoil's application relates to the 7227/11-1S wildcat in production license 202, which is due to be spudded in early 2005 after Norsk Hydro has finished a wildcat on the Obelix prospect.

Both operators will use Eirik Raude in the Barents Sea. One of the world's most modern and advanced drilling rigs, it is designed for safe operation in harsh-weather areas.

Statoil has devoted considerable efforts, in cooperation with other players in the region, to reaching the goal of zero discharges.