‘Gigantic’ discovery extends oil era

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Norwegian state oil company Statoil has confirmed the discovery of even more oil tied to its Aldous Major South project in the North Sea. A new well drilled near the original shows a “large oil column” that doubles Statoil’s estimates for recoverable oil volume, and will extend Norway’s oil era for at least another 30 years.

Statoil could report even more oil found at its Aldous/Avaldsnes field in the North Sea. PHOTO: Harald Pettersen / Statoil

The Aldous Major Sør reserves, tied to the Avaldsnes discovery off Norway’s southwest coast, already had been expected to yield between 400 million and 800 million barrels of oil equivalents (boe). Now Statoil officials have doubled that, to around 900 million to 1.5 billion barrels.

The oil found in the new discovery comes in addition to the Avaldnes discovery. “Along with Avaldsnes, this is gigantic among the five largest oil discoveries on the Norway continental shelf through the years,” Ola Andersen Skauby of Statoil told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Statoil’s partners on the field include the state-owned Petoro AS, Det norske oljeselskap ASA and Lundin Norway ASA.

The sheer economic value of the oil is “undoubtedly enormous,” Skauby said. “It’s so big that the fewest of us manage to relate to it. It’s clear this will yield considerable value, both in the form of the new (industrial) activity this will create and in the form of money that will flow into the state treasury.”

Tim Dodson, who heads oil exploration for Statoil, also called Aldous/Avaldsnes “a gigantic discovery.” Its estimated volume is growing further because the new well shows a “very good, thick reservoir” at Aldous Major Sør.

Skauby said it can be compared with the biggest discoveries ever off Norway, including the Troll, Gullfaks and Oseberg fields.

It also indicates that Norway’s oil era is far from over. “This is a huge contribution towards lengthening the possibility of maintaining high production levels (off Norway),” Skauby said. “This means that we will be able to produce oil from this field for at least 30 years.”

He contended that more oil discoveries will be needed to secure overall production at current levels beyond 2020, “but this is a considerable contribution.”

Statoil officials say they’ll “work hard” to achieve the “quickest possible” development of the field. Production is expected from 2017.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund