Almost all of the exploration wells drilled on the Norwegian shelf this year have yielded positive results. According to Bente Nyland, NPD explorations director, "The first six months of 2004 have been very good in terms of successful discoveries on the Norwegian Shelf." Only two of the exploration wells that were spudded in 2004 were completed without discovery.
As of June 15, 12 exploration wells were spudded on the Norwegian shelf. Five of these were appraisal wells, and seven were wildcats. Three wells are currently being drilled.
"We expect exploration activity for the whole of 2004 to be slightly above 20 exploration wells," Nyland said.
So far this year, two new oil discoveries have been made in the North Sea. Esso discovered what appear to be commercial quantities of oil in well 16/1-7 west of Utsirahøgda. And Norsk Hydro had a discovery in a new, smaller oil zone with development well 31/4-A-30 B on the Brage field. The oil zone is in a deeper stratigraphic layer than the field's main reservoir, but it can quickly be connected to production to boost output from the field.
South of the Heimdal field, Marathon Oil delimited discoveries 24/9-5 and 24/9-6 with wells 24/9-7, 7A, 7B, and 7C.
"Hydrocarbons were discovered in all the four appraisal wells, and the results are encouraging since the drillings were made in a play that is difficult to explore in this area. The reservoir is located in so-called injector sands, i.e. sand that under certain geological conditions moves upwards and into the overlying geological layers," Nyland said.
The discovered resources are now assessed as a possible addition to the Alvheim discoveries, which are planned for development in the near future.
A new oil discovery has also been proven in the Norwegian Sea. Statoil discovered oil in exploration well 6608/11-4, which was drilled on the Linerle prospect about 25 km northeast of the Norne field. Information from the well is being evaluated to estimate the discovery's size, and preliminary analyses indicate that this could be promising.
In addition, Statoil has delimited the gas and condensate Alve discovery with well 6507/3-4. Alve lies about 10 km southwest of Norne and was proven in 1990.
Three exploration wells are now underway: Statoil's well 34/10-48 S in the Gullfaks area, Hydro's well 30/11-6 in the Oseberg area, and Shell's well 6406/9-1 in the Norwegian Sea.