Depending on where explorers focus their drillbits, the challenges of exploring for and producing oil in the Barents Sea can be significant. Yet, these challenges are being tackled because more operators are seeing the basin’s potential.

Exploration activity started in the Barents in the 1980s, said Neivan Boroujerdi, senior analyst Norway upstream oil and gas, for Wood Mackenzie. “But what was found, including Snøhvit, was gas, which saw companies ‘take a breather’ from the region,” he said. “It wasn’t until the Goliat oil field was discovered that companies really got started, which has led to the Johan Castberg development being sanctioned last year” with more projects already in the wings, including Wisting and Alta.

Although Barents Sea exploration activity dropped off during the downturn, it picked up again last year, with 17 wells drilled—a new record for exploration drilling in the Barents Sea, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD). The biggest discovery in Norway in 2017 was Lundin’s Filicudi well in the Barents Sea.

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