Statoil’s Pingvin gas discovery in Arctic ‘play opener,’ but noncommercial

Statoil ASA and its PL713 partners have made a gas discovery in the Pingvin prospect of the Barents Sea in the Arctic, 300 km northwest of Hammerfest.

Discovery well 7319/12-1 is the first well drilled in PL713, awarded in the 22nd concession round in 2013 (OGJ Online, June 14, 2013). Statoil describes the discovery as a “play opener” in a large, unexplored frontier area, 65 km northwest from the Johan Castberg discovery (OGJ Online, June 30, 2014).

Transocean Ltd.’s Spitsbergen drilling rig reached a vertical depth of 1,500 m in 422 m of water, proving a 15-m gas column in in reservoir rocks from the Early Palaeocene or Late Cretaceous age.

Statoil estimates the volumes in Pingvin to be in the range of 30-120 million boe recoverable. The discovery has been assessed as noncommercial, and has been permanently plugged and abandoned. The rig will move to drill Statoil-operated wildcat well 7220/2-1 in PL714.

“For a discovery in this area to be commercially viable it needs to be an oil accumulation of a significant size. A gas discovery does not have commercial value at present,” explained Dan Tuppen, Statoil vice-president, exploration, Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea.

“On the positive side, it is encouraging that the first well drilled in this unexplored area has proven hydrocarbons in sandstones. This indicates that we have both a reservoir and a working hydrocarbon system in the area, and creates a good basis for further subsurface work in the license.

“The partnership drilled Pingvin just 15 months after the acreage award. The chosen well location allowed us to clarify the hydrocarbon volume in the structure with one very efficiently executed exploration well,” said Tuppen.

Statoil is operator of PL713 with 40% interest. Partners are RN Nordic Oil AS 20%, North Energy ASA 20%, and Edison International Norway Branch 20%.

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