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Statoil postpones world's northernmost drilling

Statoil will increase its activities in the Barents Sea. This is the Polar Pioneer drilling rig which has been used in the area several times. Photo: Sverre Kojedal / Statoil

Norway’s Statoil will start a major drilling campaign in the Barents Sea this summer, and has decided to push back drilling in the Hoop prospect to next year.

Location

As BarentsObserver reported, Statoil had planned to start drilling two or three wells in the Hoop frontier exploration area this summer. This would not only be the northernmost drilling ever on the Norwegian continental shelf, but also the world’s northernmost oil drilling at sea.

The company has now changed its plans and postponed the Hoop area project to next year. The reason for this is delays in preparations and winterization of the with the West Hercules exploration rig, which was supposed to go to the Hoop area after completing drilling at the Skrugard field.

“Our drilling plans are subject to continual reviews where we consider what is optimal. We now plan to drill four wells at Skrugard. We’ll then be drilling one in the Hammerfest Basin before starting in the Hoop area. This means we’ll first be going there [to Hoop] around this time next year,” Statoil press spokesman Ola Anders Skauby tells Stavanger Aftenblad.

Statoil plans to drill the prospects Nunatak, Iskrystall, Skavl, and Kramsnø back-to-back. All these are located in the immediate vicinity of Skrugard and Havis, meaning a discovery there can take advantage of the infrastructure that is planned to be built.

Greenpeace boarded rig
Last week two Greenpeace representatives entered the West Hercules rig to demonstrate against Statoil’s drilling in the Barents Sea.

Two polar bear costume-clad environmental activists, including Greenpeace leader Truls Gulowsen, climbed up one of the legs of the rig at western Norway’s Ølen yard.

Greenpeace believes there are considerably excessively safety challenges involved in Arctic oil drilling. “Extreme weather conditions and the risk of equipment icing up mean drilling in the Arctic cannot be compared with activities in the North Sea,” Erlend Tellnes, head of Greenpeace Norway’s Arctic campaign, told Stavanger Aftenblad.