- This image gives me stars in my eyes

Image of geological structures in the Barents Sea.

Results from first seismic survey in earlier disputed part of the Barents Sea is promising. Geologist and Director General Bente Nyland of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate likes what she sees.


Bente Nyland presented the 2011 results from the Norwegian continental shelf on Monday.

- Last year was a year of surprises for the oil industry, and can best be characterized as an “annus hurrahbilis”, Bente Nyland said at the presentation.

With two new oil discoveries in the western part of the Barents Sea, the Arctic is on the brink of becoming Norway’s new petroleum province. Last winter Statoil announced a major discovery at the Skrugard field and last week another discovery at the nearby Havis field.

The maritime delimitation treaty between Norway and Russia in the Barents Sea and Arctic Oceans entered force on July 7th 2011, and few minutes after midnight on July 8th, seismic vessels started the mapping of the area in the southeastern part of the Norwegian sector. Norway is very eager to map the new part of its continental shelf. 11.500 kilometers of two-dimensional (2D) seismic was acquired by the Petroleum Directorate in the area during summer and autumn last year.

The image presented by Bente Nyland on Monday is the first made public from the seismic survey.

– What you see here is an image that gives stars the eyes of a geologist, Nyland told the audience, reports Dagens Næringsliv. She will not confirm that the image shows oil and gas, but hints clearly that it might be oil and gas.

The seismic surveys in the areas will continue in 2012. The entire Norwegian shelf 2011 presentation including maps of areas in the Barents Sea where from the seismic surveys took place is posted at the directorate’s portal.

Last August, Norway’s Minister of Oil and Energy Ola Borten Moe told BarentsObserver that he has great expectations for these new areas north of the European mainland. In November, the minister launched an impact assessment study for the earlier disputed part of the Barents Sea with the aim to open the waters for drilling.


On the Russian side of the new maritime border, no seismic survey took place last year, but as BarentsObserver has reported earlier will such surveys start next summer.

It is state-owned Rosneft that will lead the exploration in the Russian part of the Barents Sea. Rosneft has no former experience in Arctic offshore drilling, but signed an agreement with US ExxonMobile last August for joint development the company’s fields in the Kara Sea. Rosneft has also hinted it would like to invite Norwegian companies to join them when drilling starts east of the new border line. 

The delimitation treaty clearly stipulates how to jointly explore oil and gas fields that potentially stretches out on each side of the Russian, Norwegian maritime border.