Statoil has underlined its faith in the potential of a North Sea discovery it thinks could contain 130 million barrels of oil and signalled confidence in the chances of making more big finds off Scotland, writes Mark Williamson.
The Norwegian oil giant announced plans for a drilling campaign which will include appraisal work on the Verbier find it made in the Moray Firth last year and two explorations wells.
The company will drill wells on the Bigfoot and Pip prospects, which lie east of Shetland and Aberdeen respectively. Statoil made clear it thinks they are very promising candidates.
It acquired the licences concerned only last year.
“These wells demonstrate Statoil’s commitment to the United Kingdom Continental Shelf, and our ability to efficiently progress drilling candidates,” said Statoil’s vice president for exploration in the UK, Jenny Morris.
She added: “We hope to make new discoveries that can add value and provide the resources necessary for new developments on the UKCS.”
Statoil will drill an appraisal well on Verbier to try to firm up estimates of the size of a find which generated huge excitement in the industry when it was announced in October.
Industry body Oil & Gas UK said then Verbier was the kind of find that could persuade other firms to drill in the country’s waters. Exploration levels fell to record lows amid the downturn triggered by the fall in the crude price since 2014.
Sentiment has started to recover following the partial recovery in the crude price since late 2016.
BP provided a big boost for the industry in January when it announced it had made two finds in the North Sea, which appeared to be significant.
The London-based giant will partner Statoil on the Bigfoot and Pip wells. Bigfoot is 100 miles east of Shetland, Pip is 140 miles north east of Aberdeen.
Statoil made the Verbier find with Jersey Oil & gas, which is a relative minnow.
Jersey persuaded Statoil to buy into the licence concerned. The Aim-listed firm is trying to generate value from the rump of the assets amassed by the North Sea-focused Trap Oil business.
Trap suffered hefty losses after a long boom in oil prices ended in 2014.