Recent North Sea discovery even larger than expected

“Aldous/Avaldsnes is a giant oil discovery, and according to our estimates the combined discovery may make the top 10 list of NCS oil discoveries. Norway has not seen a similar oil discovery since the mid-eighties” says Tim Dodson, Statoil’s executive vice president for Exploration.

Communication between the Aldous and Avaldsnes oil discoveries in the North Sea has now been confirmed. In combination these discoveries may represent an oil structure of between 500 million and 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent.

If the upper part of the interval strikes pay dirt, the discovery will be one of the ten largest oil finds ever on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). Statoil (OSE: STL, NYSE: STO) has a 40% stake both in licence PL 265, where Aldous was discovered, and in PL 501, where the Avaldsnes discovery was made.

“Aldous/Avaldsnes is a giant oil discovery, and according to our estimates the combined discovery may make the top 10 list of NCS oil discoveries. Norway has not seen a similar oil discovery since the mid-eighties” says Tim Dodson, Statoil’s executive vice president for Exploration.

This is the third “high-impact discovery” (*) for Statoil as an operator in 2011. In April of this year the 250 million barrel Skrugard oil discovery was made in the Barents Sea, and the 150-300 million barrel Peregrino South oil field was discovered offshore Brazil.

“The discoveries are a result of Statoil’s exploration strategy of prioritising high-impact opportunities, while focusing on our established core areas,” says Dodson.

As the company announced on 8 August, a minimum 65-metre oil column has been confirmed in Aldous Major South well 16/2-8 in the North Sea. The discovery was made in Jurassic sandstone in a very good quality reservoir consisting of coarse-grained, unconsolidated sand.

The well has also established common oil/water contact between the Aldous and Avaldsnes structures, and according to preliminary estimates the combined discovery in the two licences (PL 265 and PL 501) totals between 500 million and 1.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent. Between 200 and 400 million barrels of these resources have been discovered in well 16/2-8, with strong indications from well data of another 200 to 400 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalent in the same structure, whereas a resource base of 100 to 400 barrels previously has been estimated in the Avaldsnes structure (PL 501).

The well was drilled by the Transocean Leader drilling rig, which soon will spud Aldous Major North well 16/2-9 (PL265) to clarify the further potential and any communication with Aldous/Avaldsnes. In addition the partners plan further appraisal drilling in licence PL 265 next year to clarify the full volume potential for a future development solution.

“As we said at the Capital Market Day event in New York in June, the NCS is a world-class petroleum province. The Aldous/Avaldsnes discoveries are evidence that the NCS is still attractive. Making a discovery of this size in a mature area shows that exploration is all about perseverance, creativity and obtaining new knowledge,” says Dodson.

Aldous Major South is located in licence 265. Statoil is the operator and has a 40% interest. The other partners are Petoro (30%), Det norske oljeselskap (20%) and Lundin (10%).

Avaldsnes is located in licence 501. Lundin is the operator and has a 40% interest, whereas partners Statoil and Mærsk have 40% and 20% interests, respectively.

(*) “High-impact discovery” = a total of more than 250 million barrels of oil equivalent, or 100 million net barrels of oil equivalent to Statoil.