Statoil puts Barents Sea on hold

Sunset over Hammerfest LNG in Finnmark on the coast of the western Barents Sea.

Is the sunset coming for Arctic oil? There will be no drilling by Statoil in the Barents Sea in 2015.

Statoil’s head of exploration Tim Dodson says to that the Norwegian state-controlled company has no drilling plans in the Barents Sea this year. 


The statement comes after Statoil’s extensive 2013-2014 exploration program in the Barents Sea ended rather disappointing, with fewer commercial discoveries than the company originally anticipated. Statoil was hoping to find more oil around the Johan Caastberg field, a field that is likely not to be profitable to develop without more oil resources at neighbouring fields.

Oil prices have since June plunged from $115 to $49 per barrel today.

“We will drill in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea, but we have no plans to drill in the Barents Sea,” says Tim Dodson in the video-interview with

Last week, the Norwegian Government announced the 23rd License Round for drilling on the country’s continental shelf. 57 blocks are offered, including 34 in the formerly disputed waters with Russia. Norway and Russia agreed on a delimitation line in the Barents Sea in 2010. Since then, Statoil and Rosneft have teamed up for joint exploration programs in the northern part of the Russia Barents Sea sector, a cooperation that is currently put on hold due to the sanctions Norway has implemented on Russian Arctic offshore drillings. 

Statoil is currently the only company with an operating field in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea. The Snøhvit natural gas field off the coast of Finnmark supplies Hammerfest LNG with gas. Eni says they later on this year will start exploration at the Goliat field. The platform for that field will within weeks start the voyage from the yard in South Korea towards the Barents Sea. 

Last week, Bloomberg reported that Statoil may walk away from another Arctic area, namely the West Greenland, arguing that the area is too costly and has a high risk profile.