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Statoil stepping up in the Arctic

Statoil is stepping up its Arctic activities and will drill nine wells during a non-stop 2013 Norwegian Barents exploration campaign. The company plans to meet development challenges here by tripling its Arctic technology research budget.

 

Statoil’s exploration experience in the Barents is already extensive. Of the 94 exploration wells drilled in the Norwegian Barents Sea so far, Statoil has been involved in 89. Nine more Statoil-operated wells are on their way here next year.

“After our Skrugard and Havis discoveries we still see attractive opportunities here,” says Statoil Exploration executive vice president Tim Dodson.

“This is a less challenging area, as the Norwegian Barents is one of the only Arctic areas with a year-round ice-free zone. We also see the possibility of utilising knowledge gained here for Arctic prospects elsewhere later on – just like we’ve already done with Snøhvit.”

Statoil will start drilling in Nunatak in the Skrugard area in December, and will drill and complete four wells in this area over a six-month period.

“These wells are time critical, as any additional resources will make the Skrugard development even more robust,” says Dodson.

The campaign will then continue with the drilling of two-three wells in the Hoop frontier exploration area further north in the Barents in the summer of 2013. These will be the northernmost wells ever drilled in Norway.

The 2013 Barents drilling campaign finishes in the most mature province of the Barents: the Hammerfest basin. Statoil will carry out growth exploration close to the existing Snøhvit and Goliat discoveries here.

Arctic drilling unit

In addition to increasing its drilling activities, Statoil has created a technology road map to prepare for activities in even harsher Arctic areas.
This includes:

  • A tripling of the current Arctic research budget – from NOK 80 million (in 2012) to NOK 250 million (in 2013)
  • A research cruise to north east Greenland in September
  • The maturing of an Arctic drill unit concept

Some of the technology highlights include work to allow for cost-effective 3D seismic for exploration prospect evaluation in ice, and the continuing development of a tailor-made, Arctic drill unit.

The work on the future drilling unit is based on Statoil’s experience with developing specialised category rigs for the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).

The unit will be one that can operate in a wide range of water depths across the Arctic, and will involve integrated operations in drifting ice.

Functions here are to include a management system to reduce ice impact, an optimised drilling package for faster drilling and increased rig availability, and solutions to ensure that the rig maintains its position. At present no robust solution for dynamic positioning dedicated for ice operation exists.

“When we see a technology need, we try to fill the gap ourselves. We have now directed our strategic focus towards developing technology for exploration and production in ice. A new dedicated unit has been established to solve these challenges,” says Statoil Technology, Projects and Drilling executive vice president Margareth Øvrum.

Capacity is key

“We’ve secured a five-year contract for Seadrill‘s West Hercules drilling rig. The rig is currently being prepared for Arctic conditions, and can be used to drill consecutively in the region for years to come,” Dodson says.

Broad exploration experience in the Barents Sea and available rig capacity make Statoil well prepared for the 22nd licence round on the NCS. Applications are due in early December, while the awarding of new licences will take place in spring 2013. Seventy-two blocks in the Barents will be on offer.

“The Skrugard discovery has reignited interest in the Barents. A number of major companies that had left the area will be looking to make their way back in. The competition will be fierce, but we’ve built up a strong track record here, and our application will reflect this,” Dodson says.

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Statoil Charters Light Well Intervention Vessels to Increase Recovery

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Statoil has awarded contracts for new light well intervention (LWI) vessels. These “category A” units will contribute to increased recovery from Statoil’s approximately 500 operated subsea wells on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).

Statoil has on behalf of relevant licensees awarded a contract to Island Offshore Management and Eide Marine Services for the charter of a total of three LWI vessels.

These purpose-built vessels are used for performing light well interventions, well operations and well maintenance without a riser-based system. Statoil can reduce well intervention costs by about 60% by utilizing a LWI vessel instead of a conventional rig.

“Performing these types of conventional jobs on subsea wells with low volumes of oil in place is expensive. The LWI vessels ensure both cost-efficient and safe operations,” says Statoil’s head of drilling and well Øystein Arvid Håland.

“Having more and new vessels of this category also helps increase recovery from fields on stream by opening new zones in the well, and stopping water production downhole.”

The contracts are worth a total of NOK 9.4 billion (USD 1.57 billion).

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Island Offshore vessels Island Frontier and Island Wellserver, which already have contracts with Statoil, have been awarded new five-year contracts. Eide Well Intervention, a new supplier in this segment for Statoil, has been awarded an eight-year contract for their new build, which employs a completely new technology.

The contracts with both companies come into effect in the spring of 2015, and include two options to extend for another two years.

A growing number of discoveries are developed via subsea wells, and it is important both to have equipment capable of maintaining these and to avoid using conventional drilling rigs for this type of work.

The rig market on the NCS is characterized by an aging rig fleet, and it is necessary to ensure sufficient and adequate rig capacity at sustainable rates. To address this, Statoil has put light LWI vessels – category A units – into service on a large scale.

“We have great ambitions and a long-term perspective on the NCS. Using purpose-built rigs and vessels in our operations is an important part of Statoil’s rig strategy. The high number of subsea wells in the future will require maintenance, and we are securing capacity in order to meet this need,” says Statoil’s chief procurement officer Jon Arnt Jacobsen.

“Island Offshore has delivered solid services and we expect the same going forward. At the same time we are pleased to have increased the number of suppliers in this market, and through the Eide Well Intervention newbuild we are also employing the latest available technology. Together these three vessels will provide us with an efficient service fleet for light well intervention services.”

Statoil has been pursuing riserless well intervention in subsea wells since 2000, and the technology has steadily improved.

The category A units will perform services for Statoil and the partners on the Åsgard, Norne, Gullfaks, Oseberg, Heidrun, Snøhvit, Tyrihans, Tordis/Vigdis, Snorre, Statfjord and Sleipner fields.

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Norway: Statoil Plans to Establish New Operational Area on NCS

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Statoil said it intends to establish a new operational area on the Norwegian continental shelf, which will be based in Harstad with start-up in the first half of 2013.

Statoil is setting up a separate operational area in Northern Norway due to the considerable increase in activities taking place off the three northernmost counties in Norway.

“This will boost our presence in Northern Norway and help ensure added value from the Northern fields in the future. Ever since the merger in 2007, and the setting up of Operations North in Stjørdal, we have expressed our intention of establishing a new operational area in the North when activities and materiality justified such an industrial decision – and we are now seeing that level of activity,” states Statoil CEO Helge Lund.

Lund adds that there are also expectations of further activities in Northern Norway, owing to the increase in exploration in newly opened acreage, and in areas expected to be made available to the petroleum industry; initially the Barents Sea, and subsequently areas in the north-eastern Norwegian Sea.

Increased activity in Northern Norway

To begin with the new operational area will be responsible for the already operative Norne and Snøhvit fields, as well as for the Åsta Hansteen field, for which a decision will be taken later this year. In due course the Skrugard/Havis field will also report to the new operational area, which will be managed along similar lines and carry the same executive authority as other operational areas.

Meanwhile, it is the intention to locate the Åsta Hansteen field’s operational organisation in Harstad, the supply base in Sandnessjøen and the helicopter base in Brønnøysund. These choices have been made after consultation with the partners on the field and final decisions here will be taken in connection with the impact assessment study.

“In wishing to base the Åsta Hansteen operational organisation in Harstad, we are envisaging the possibility of synergy effects obtained from a joint localisation with the Norne field. A new operational organisation will also boost competence and enhance the specialist milieus in Harstad,” says the executive vice president for Development and Production Norway, Øystein Michelsen.

The creation of this new area of operations will entail an increase in the number of employees at the Harstad office. Once the decision on Åsta Hansteen is taken, more employees will join the new area; overall the increase is likely to amount to some 30-50 persons.

Work on the detailed planning of the new operational area in Northern Norway is now getting under way. The area will commence its operations in the course of the first half of 2013.

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