In what Reuters calls a “major setback” for the country’s offshore oil and gas ambitions, Norway announced that its most promising exploration well in the Barents Sea turned up no oil and a commercially negligible volume of natural gas.
“Statoil, the country’s top oil and gas producer, has stepped up drilling in the Barents Sea this year as the government seeks to attract more explorers to its Arctic waters to make up for declining North Sea output,” the news agency reports. The company had had high hopes for the Korpfjell well, the first to be drilled in the Norwegian section of an area that was previously disputed between Norway and Russia, describing it as a “high-impact” prospect that could contain more than 250 million barrels of oil or equivalent.
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The Financial Times reports some fossil analysts had put the Korpfjell field’s oil potential at more than a billion barrels.
Although the company plans further exploration activity in 2018, “the results are of course disappointing,” said Statoil’s head of exploration in Norway and UK, Jez Averty. “But it is too early to draw any conclusions on how this will impact the Barents Sea southeast area.”
Korpfjell “was the fourth of Statoil’s five planned exploration wells in the Barents Sea this summer, and the third that failed to prove commercial volumes,” Reuters notes. “If more wells to be drilled in 2018 turn out to be dry, then it would be really bad,” said Sparebank 1 Markets analyst Teodor Sveen-Nilsen.