Even more oil found off Norway

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Wintershall, the largest internationally active German crude oil and natural gas producer, has struck oil at one of its licenses in a mature area of the North Sea. The discovery from a wildcat well at the Skarfjell prospect may be worth more than NOK 100 billion.

Wintershall is active in the North Sea and further north. Its new oil discovery was struck near the Grosbeak area northwest of Bergen. MAP: Wintershall

A 30-year-old Norwegian geophysicist is getting much of the credit for the latest in a series of new oil discoveries off Norway. Kari Langvik Østhus was given responsibility five years ago to survey the license Wintershall held on the site in the northeastern portion of the North Sea, which is off the west coast between Bergen and Florø.

“There’s always a team behind these projects,” Østhus told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “But for me, it’s also very exciting that this was my first license, my ‘darling,’ in a way. I was of course really glad when I heard there was an oil discovery.”

So were the top executives at Wintershall, which has been investing heavily in Norway’s oil and gas industry. Wintershall is Germany’s largest producer of oil and gas and logged historically high operating profits last year.

“The Skarfjell discovery is another important milestone for Winterhall and adds further growth potential to our portfolio on the Norwegian Continental Shelf,” said Martin Bachmann, a member of Wintershall’s board of executive directors responsible for exploration and production. “We’re confident of the quality of our projects, both in exploration and development, and continue to pursue ambitious targets for the northern North Sea.”

Wintershall has a portfolio of more than 40 licenses off Norway with operating rights on more than 20. The company aims to raise its daily production on both the Norwegian and British continental shelf by more than 10-fold by 2015.

Svein Ilebekk, managing director of license partner Agora, said Østhus was responsible for seismic interpretation, among other things, and is among the youngest in the organization of license partners. “I sent her a message of congratulations,” he told DN.

Wintershall Norge is known for having a solid staff of women, who make up nearly half of its employees in an industry dominated by men. DN reported recently that the company’s roughly 150 employees in Norway come from 17 different countries. Several have come from large companies, attracted by the opportunity to work for a smaller operation that’s building itself up in Norway.

Norway’s oil and gas industry continues to boom, with major new discoveries and expansion of new oil fields. Government officials last week approved development, for example, of the so-called Edvard Grieg field, valued at an estimated NOK 1,900 billion. Oil & Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe called the move “the start of a new chapter in Norwegian oil history. These are enormous values.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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