Jan Mayen survey points to petroleum potential

Offshore staff

OSLO, Norway – The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) and the University of Bergen have acquired samples from steep parts of the seabed on the Jan Mayen ridge between Norway and Iceland.

NPD is investigating the potential for petroleum in the region.

According to Exploration Director Sissel Eriksen, the oldest of the samples appear to be 260 million years old.

“We had hoped, but not expected, to find such old sedimentary rocks near Jan Mayen,” Eriksen said. “The impact of volcanic rocks in the area is less than we previously thought – volcanic rocks generally do not have a potential for oil and gas.”

Good-quality sandstone was also discovered, as were rocks of the same age as source rocks on Greenland.

“This means that we have rocks that could contain material which forms oil and gas,” Eriksen added. “Two important preconditions for possible petroleum deposits are thus in place.”

Samples were taken in July from an ROV operated from the Institute of Marine Research’s vessel G.O. Sars. Each sample has been documented in video, showing its exact depth and position.

Data was acquired on both the Icelandic and Norwegian sides of the ridge, under an agreement with Icelandic authorities (Orkustofnun). Water depths in the survey area range from 600-2,000 m (1,968-6,561 ft). The areas were selected in part based on seismic data available for this part of the Norwegian Sea.

Greenland and Norway were long ago located very close together, but separated during two major rift episodes which led to the formation of the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea. In connection with this, Jan Mayen became a separate microcontinent.

The Jan Mayen ridge has a sole of Precambrian bedrock. The previous assumption was that this area consists mainly of volcanic material.

“If we take more samples using ROVs and acquire more seismic,” Eriksen said, “we will gain more knowledge regarding the scope of the interesting rocks. We also want to drill shallow bore holes to verify the findings from our samples.”

More seismic will be acquired on the Jan Mayen Ridge next summer. Last year Norway’s government started a process to open seas in this area for potential petroleum activity.

The results of the NPD’s acquisition and interpretation work between 2010 and 2013 will be included in an impact assessment for the Jan Mayen microcontinent.


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