Hydro Strikes at Nucula Prospect in the Barents Sea

Hydro has proved the presence of oil and gas in the exploration well on the Nucula prospect in the Barents Sea.

The drilling was carried out using Transocean's Polar Pioneer semisub, around 110 kilometers northeast of the Goliath discovery, and around 65 kilometers north of the Norwegian town of Honningsvag.

As operator for production license 393, Hydro has now completed drilling of exploration well 7125/4-1 on the Nucula prospect.

The exploration well was drilled to a total depth of 1592 meters below the surface of the sea, reaching rock formations from the early Triassic period. Oil and gas were encountered in the well. Hydrocarbons were found in the Realgrunnen Group formation, and in the Kobbe formation. The well was not production tested, but extensive data collection and sampling work has been carried out.

"It is positive that a new, functioning petroleum system has been proven in this part of the Barents Sea, too. However, it is important to emphasise that there is a need for further evaluation and analysis of collected data in order to ascertain whether or not the discovery is commercial," says Vice President Tore Lilloe-Olsen, head of Exploration in the Development Norway sector, in Hydro's Oil & Energy business area.

Production license 393 was awarded in March 2006. Less than a year later, drilling is now completed.

There have been strict requirements for this exploration well, with regard to discharge and preparedness. The only discharge to the sea during this drilling operation has been from the top hole, and this has predominantly been composed of a mixture of fresh water and table salt. Examinations of the sea bed have also been carried out after the drilling, and these show that the environmental effects of the operation have been minimal.

"Hydro set ambitious targets for implementation of this drilling operation. For this reason it is gratifying to see that the operation was carried out with less discharge to the sea than planned, no unforeseen incidents, and with minimal effects on the environment. This shows that Hydro is capable of carrying out drilling operations with an extremely good environmental profile, in areas where this is necessary," Lilloe-Olsen comments.

Hammerfest was used as base both for helicopter transportation and the provision of supplies to the exploration rig, while several of the emergency preparedness vessels were stationed in Honningsvag.

Participants in the Nucula license are Hydro as operator with 30%; Eni with 30%; BG with 20% and Petoro with the remaining 20%.

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