- Let’s drill here

Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe pointing at the petroleum resources in the Barents Sea.

- I hope to announce the first licenses in the southeastern part of the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea, says Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe in this interview with BarentsObserver.


Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Ola Borten Moe, is very enthusiastic when he point at the areas in the Barents Sea where he want to drill. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

It is a very energetic and enthusiastic minister that met with BarentsObserver, regional business and politicians in Kirkenes on Monday. Kirkenes is a coastal town just south of the large areas in the Barents Sea where Norway and Russia just recently ended a 40 year long dispute on the maritime border.

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This part of the Barents Sea is believed to hold huge amount of both oil and gas. The first Norwegian seismic survey vessel sailed into the area just hours after the maritime delimitation agreement entered force earlier this summer.

- The seismic survey vessel has covered an area of 7,800 square kilometers in the southeastern part of the Barents Sea this summer, says Ola Borten Moe proudly. The minister says the vessel will continue to collect data from the area until mid-September.

The ongoing seismic surveys have so far been very successful.

- I have high ambitions on what Norway will do in the north. We are now in the process of opening the areas that until recently was disputed, says Ola Borten Moe. He underlines that it is too early to estimate the amount of oil- and gas resources that can be in the area, but as he puts it: …”we know what is west of this area and we have some knowledge of what is east of this area. So we have all possible reasons to be optimistic…”

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The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is working hard to open the new promising areas in the southeastern part of the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea.

- After we get the results from the seismic surveys and mapping of the seabed geological structures, we will do an assessment study that will include environmental impact analysis, consequences for the fisheries, petroleum resource estimation and consequences for the society, says Ola Borten Moe. Thereafter, the government plans to present a report to the parliament with all facts about possible startup of oil- and gas drilling in the area. The aim is clearly to facilitate for drilling within the nearest years.

- We do already have a lot of knowledge from the western part of the Barents Sea. There we have discovered both oil and gas reservoirs that are very promising, according to the minister.

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- I hope to be the minister that announces the first licenses in the earlier disputed area of the Barents Sea, according to Ola Borten Moe.

Borten Moe believes that the assesment study will be finished by 2013. If Stortinget on the basis of this decides to open the area for exploration, then they can announce the first licenses. However, Borten Moe does not believe it will be possible to announce the first licenses before 2014.

Last week, Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced the idea to possible prolong Norway’s existing subsea gas pipelines to the high north and the Barents Sea.

Ola Borten Moe says such a project is a fascinating idea, but underlines that it is a very long distance and far too early to conclude today. He also thinks it is far too early to talk about a possible Norwegian invitation to Russia to connect their gas-fields in the eastern part of the Barents Sea to a south running pipe along the coast of Norway.

Do you have any insight on the Shtokman-project?

- No, you tell me, replies the smiling minister. – I don’t know, haven’t heard anything, he says.

- First there must come a decision on investment for the Shtokman project. Such announcement is said to come by the end of this year, ends Ola Borten Moe.