Norway has enjoyed a boost to its flagging exploration scene over the last week, with the Barents Sea proving to be the hot spot.

Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum unveiled its Neiden discovery, while OMV confidently stated that the Wisting Field could hold more than 1 Bboe, which would make it the largest find in the Norwegian Arctic area.

Lundin completed the Neiden exploration well 7220/6-2R in the Barents Sea offshore Norway as an oil and gas discovery. The well is located in production license 609 (PL 609) and lies about 60 km (37 miles) northeast of the Alta discovery on the Loppa High in the southern Barents Sea.

The primary targets for the well were to prove petroleum in Middle Triassic sandstone rocks (Snadd Formation) and in Permian to Carboniferous carbonate rocks (Ørn Formation), the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said.

The well encountered a gross 31-m (102-ft) hydrocarbon column, with 21 m (69 ft) of oil and 10 m (33 ft) of gas in the Permian target. The total gross resource estimate for the Neiden discovery is between 25 MMboe and 60 MMboe.

“In the Snadd Formation, the well encountered aquiferous sandstone with moderate to good reservoir properties,” the NPD added. “The well was not production tested, but extensive data acquisition and sampling were carried out. The well is the sixth exploration well in PL 609, which was awarded in the 21st Licensing Round in 2011.”

The well was drilled to a vertical depth of 1,293 m (4,242 ft) below the sea surface and was terminated in basement rocks. The water depth is 387 m (1,270 ft). The well will now be permanently plugged and abandoned.

“Extensive data acquisition and sampling were carried out including coring, logging, and light oil and gas sampled from the wireline tools. The well demonstrates high-quality karstified carbonate reservoir, which reduces the risk of the Børselv prospect, located 15 km [9 miles] north and updip from the Neiden discovery in PL 609. The Børselv prospect is a candidate for drilling in 2017,” Lundin said.

The semisubmersible drilling rig Leiv Eiriksson drilled the Neiden well and will now move to the Filicudi prospect in PL 533 to drill the 7219/12-1 well to the northwest of the Alta discovery and south of the Statoil operated Johan Castberg discovery.

The Filicudi prospect is expected to contain Jurassic sandstone reservoir analogous to the Johan Castberg discovery. The Filicudi prospect is estimated to contain gross unrisked prospective resources of 258 Mboe, Lundin said.

Lundin Norway is the operator of both PL 609 (40%) and PL 533 (35%).

Wisting’s 1 Bboe Potential

Austria’s OMV said the Wisting discovery in the Barents Sea could contain more than 1 Bboe. If firmed up this would make the discovery the largest find in the Norwegian Arctic.

OMV and its partners are still exploring the Wisting area and are due to make a decision on whether to develop the discovery in 2019 or 2020, OMV’s Norway chief David Latin said. He said he was becoming “more and more confident” that the project is economically viable.

The Wisting discovery has a water depth of 402 m (1,319 ft). Due to its remote location the most likely development solution would be a floating production unit linked to a subsea facility.

First production could be started in 2024 or 2025, Latin said, although he did not give a cost estimate for any Wisting development.

OMV currently officially estimates recoverable resources at between 200 MMboe and 500 MMboe, but the topside of this figure could be at least doubled if Wisting’s potential is confirmed, Latin said.

“We are now very, very comfortable in that range, and we’re moving toward the upper end. We can now say that the in-place volumes have increased very substantially. And we are now well over a billion barrels, and we haven’t drilled everything yet,” Latin said. “So it is really big, and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be developed. If we can’t develop, as an industry, a billion-barrel field, we should just all go home and go to bed.”

He continued, “We’ve drilled five wells, and we’ve now put the drillbit in most of that billion barrels, and there are still some areas around in the license that haven’t been drilled. So there is upside to the billion barrels in place. And then there is a license next door, which we are partners in, that hasn’t been drilled yet.”

In April OMV completed drilling and testing of the Wisting Central II appraisal well, about 310 km (192.6 miles) north of Hammerfest.

Wisting lies in production license 537 (PL 537), which was awarded in the 20th Licensing Round in 2009.

OMV operates PL 537 with a 25% stake with Petoro (20%), Idemitsu (20%), Tullow (20%) and Statoil (15%).

—Steve Hamlen