Norwegian energy giant Statoil announced Friday that it had found "significant" new oil resources in the North Sea, in the Gullfaks oil field, which has been in production for almost three decades. The statement issued by the company revealed that Statoil and its partner Petoro, which operate the Gullfaks field at a 70:30 ratio, had discovered new reserves that could yield between 40 and 150 million barrels of oil.
The newly discovered reserves are located in the Shetland Group and the Lista Formation, which are both younger deposits with slightly different properties than those in the Brent Group where the majority of the Gullfaks reserves are positioned, Statoil explained. Researchers have long considered that the Shetland Group/Lista Formation holds additional oil reserves but development has been delayed because of the relatively poor reservoir qualities. However, results from a new well test have proved good flow rates, the company added.
Oeystein Michelsen, executive vice president for Development and Production Norway, said that the new reserves could guarantee a bigger production volume and could yield high-quality product in a short time. He added that the discovery offered new perspectives for the field, directly resulting from Statoil's successful strategy for "revitalization of the Norwegian continental shelf."
The preliminary prediction for 40-150 million barrels of oil equivalent is based on interpretation, modeling and sampling of available data for the area. Still, this is only an estimate and calculations and projections involve a great deal of uncertainty, Statoil said. At present, more data is being collected through the well test carried out at production well 34/10-A-8 on the Gullfaks A platform, the company statement explained.
The discovery came as a result of Norway's energy push for finding more resources in the North Sea and the country's venture into exploring the Arctic for oil. Statoil had already proposed starting exploration work at an area in the South-Eastern Barents Sea. If the proposal gets the green light, the company will start operations at the first new location to open in 20 years. Overall, the Norwegian government estimates that almost two billion barrels of oil equivalent could be extracted from the Barents Sea, with the potential to offset the decline in production over recent years.
Norway has been holding a leading position in the European oil and gas industry alongside Russia and the two countries have been locked in disputes over the Barents Sea region for decades. With the Gullfaks discovery and its Barents Sea plans, Norway seems to be in a perfect position to build on its influence on European markets and to capitalize on its efforts for industry development and new reserves exploration.
Ola Borten Moe, minister of petroleum and energy, commented that opening the first new petroleum activity location in almost 20 years was a grand occasion for the country that would grant new opportunities for employment and economic growth.