The Norwegian part state-owned gas and oil giant Statoil is the big winner in the latest licensing round for new areas of the Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea, as the company also announced large discoveries off the coast of Brazil.
In the so-called 21st licensing round, which was undertaken by the government at the end of last year, extraction permits for 12 areas in the Barents Sea and a further 12 in the adjacent Norwegian Sea, both north of mainland Norway, have been given out. The latest government awards, which have favoured Statoil, come just a few weeks after the company announced a huge new find in the Skrugard region of the Barents Sea, thought to be their biggest find in the Norwegian shelf for over a decade.
In total, 37 international oil companies had applied for licenses before the November 2010 deadline. While global giants BP and Shell were awarded no licenses, Statoil received by far the most awards, winning eight licenses as operator, compared to their nearest rivals, GDF SUEZ E&P Norge, who won three. In total, Statoil has received 11 licenses as operator or partner.
Oil and energy minister Ola Borten Moe, speaking to newspaper Aftenposten, described the interest in the Barents Sea in particular as “historic,” adding that “no previous licensing round has given so many awards in this area.” After Statoil’s recent Skrugard find, expectations have been raised further that discoveries in the area will multiply. Previously, there had been a number of disappointing attempts to find oil in the Barents Sea, with Norwegians and Russians, who share the sea, searching repeatedly for oil since the 1970s with only a few promising results.
Borten Moe was quick to stress that the parties concerned will “do all we can to make sure that what happened in the Gulf of Mexico cannot happen here.” There are new demands on companies drilling in such deep sea areas – for example, in addition to the operator, at least one of the partners involved in these licenses must have drilled wells as an operator on or outside of the Norwegian shelf.
New finds off the coast of Rio
In other good news for Statoil, the company announced further discoveries in their exploration operations off the coast of Brazil. The finds came in the Peregrino field, 85 kilometers east of Rio de Janeiro. Statoil already has operator responsibility for the entire field, with a 60 percent share in the operation. Extraction began in the field just a few weeks ago, and was already planned to increase to around 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. Between 300 and 600 million barrels were thought to be found in the field in total, and it is not yet known how much this volume will be increased by the new finds.
In a press release, Statoil’s director of exploration Tim Dodson stated that “the results confirm the significant potential that is found in the Peregrino area and underlines the belief we have had in this.”
Views and News from Norway/Aled-Dilwyn Fisher
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