Norway clears way for drilling in the Barents Sea

April 6 (UPI) — Two energy companies are cleared for two separate drilling operations in the Norwegian waters of the Barents Sea, a national safety regulator said.

The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway gave Aker BP consent to drill an exploration well in the Svanefjell prospect in the Barents Sea using the semi-submersible deepwater rig, Deepsea Stavenger.

In a separate decision, Spirit Energy has permission to start work in the northern Norwegian waters of the Barents Sea using a mobile drilling facility at wells dubbed 7322/7-1 and 7322/7-2.

“The consent has been issued on the following conditions: Concerning the drilling of well 7322/7-2, this cannot start until the results of well 7322/7-1 are known and an updated drilling program has been sent to the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway,” the regulator stated.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the country’s energy regulator, said an auction this year was one of the most diverse, with licenses spread out among small and international majors. Of the 75 production licenses, 45 are in the North Sea, 22 are in the Norwegian Sea and eight are in the Norwegian waters of the Barents Sea. Of the total, 22 are production licenses that are add-ons to existing assets.

While the Norwegian waters of the North Sea saw the bulk of the focus in the latest rounds, it’s the Barents Sea that may hold the most promise for Norway. The NPD said around 60 percent of the undiscovered resources are in the Barents Sea and it’s there where maintaining a high level of production may be important over the long term.

Apart from Russia, Norway is the top oil and natural gas supplier for the European economy, designating nearly all of its offshore production to the export market. Total production for February, the last full month for which data are available, was down 2.2 percent from January and 2.5 percent lower than the same month last year.