Statoil using mega-rig to tap frontier North Sea area

March 12 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil will move a deepwater drilling rig to the North Sea to tap a prospect awarded more than 30 years ago, a regulator said Monday.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate gave Statoil consent to move the Deepsea Atlantic drilling rig to a section of the North Sea to tap into a prospect awarded to the company in 1985. The well is considered a wildcat, an area not known previously to contain hydrocarbons, and it's the nineteenth well to be drilled in this particular area.

The well is about six miles northeast of the producing Visund field, from where Statoil sends oil and natural gas to the European market.

Apart from Russia, Norway is the largest regional exporter of oil and natural gas, sending nearly all of its offshore production to Europe.

Statoil in 2014 signed a $183 million contract with oil services company Schlumberger for offshore operations at a complex of fields, including Visund.

Statoil is moving the Deepsea Atlantic rig after it completes operations at the Johan Sverdrup field, which has a resource range of 3.1 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Phase 1 of the field's development is currently underway and about 70 percent completed. All told, Johan Sverdrup could represent a quarter of total Norwegian production and first deliveries from the field are expected to begin in late 2019.

Owned by Odfjell Drilling, the Deepsea Atlantic rig is among the largest in the world.

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