Norway Issues Consent for Barents Sea Well

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has granted Statoil ASA its consent for exploration drilling of well 7131/4-7 using the mobile rig Eirik Raude. The well is part of production license 233, operated by Statoil, with Norsk Hydro and Eni Norge as licensees.

This consent was granted on December 23rd and it relates to the third planned exploration well in the Barents Sea after the area was re-opened for exploration drilling. The activity will commence in the spring of 2005, after the Eirik Raude concludes exploration drilling of well 7227/11-1S. The operation is expected to last about 22 days.

Well 7131/4-1 is situated 290 km northeast of Hammerfest. The closest point to land (Berlev├ąg) is about 115 km distant. The water depth is 332 m.

The consent is granted under the conditions stipulated in the Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) for Eirik Raude, issued on September 15, 2004, with the obligations the Acknoledgement of Comliance represents for both shipowner and operator.

Our decision is based on the application submitted by Statoil, with analyses and evaluations demonstrating that the planned operation can be carried out with an acceptable safety level and in accordance with applicable regulations.

Aspects related to emergency preparedness and technical well factors are deemed to have been sufficiently addressed in connection with the planning process.

The submitted application for consent and program are in compliance with the regulations and do not identify any special challenges associated with the planned drilling activity.

The well is planned so that there will be minimal discharge of cuttings and chemicals to the seabed, and the rig is equipped with a view towards preventing discharges to sea.

The Eirik Raude was assessed in connection with the AoC and has undergone necessary modifications to handle the special challenges associated with the planned drilling activity in the Barents Sea.

In addition, our consideration is based on the processes in SFT (the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority) and the Rogaland Board of Health, which also conclude that the consent may be granted.

The consent is granted subject to the following terms and conditions:

  • Statoil will be responsible for collecting meteorological and oceanographic data and reporting this data from the Eirik Raude in accordance with NORSOK N-002. If the ice edge, sea ice or icebergs should approach the vicinity of the Eirik Raude, these reports shall also include information on the position of the ice, cf. Section 25 of the Framework Regulations.

  • For extraordinary cuttings treatment on board after installation of surface casing with safety valves, it is assumed that said technology will be tried and proven in accordance with the established safety level for the activities, and within the company's criteria for acceptable risk to personnel.

  • This presumes:

  • A good working environment is ensured by providing good ergonomics, protection against hazardous noise levels, as well as necessary winterization/weather protection of the work sites of the personnel who operate the unit.

  • The cuttings treatment system, with associated hoses and equipment, shall be winterized so that the equipment functions as intended under the expected climatic conditions.

  • Winterization of the rig and third-party equipment pursuant to the AoC decision.