Statoil spuds near Kristin in Halten Bank development bid

Transocean Sedco Forex's semisub drill rig Transocean Arctic has spudded an exploration well on production licence 257 in the Halten Bank area of the Norwegian Sea for Statoil AS, with a view to proving gas and condensate in the Northern part of the Erland structure. The well, 5km west of the high-pressure , high-temperature Kristin Field will be drilled to a TD of some 5000m. The drilling is expected to take 76 days, said the Norwegian energy company, which previously made a minor gas find in the Southern part of Erlend. Statoil's Halten/Nordland exploration sector manager, Ørjan Birkeland, said exploration drilling was also underway in the so-called M prospect 12km north of Kristin using Saipem SPA's Scarabeo 5 drill rig. He said results from these wells would be fundamental to the long-term development of this stretch of the Halten Bank. The partners in the licence's being drilled - Staoil, Norsk Hydro AS, Agip SPA, TotalFinalElf SA and ExxonMobil Corp - are considering developing Kristin via a floating production platform equipped with gas and condensate processing facilties in order to build in "maximum flexibility" to accomodate potential tiebacks from other reservoirs in the area. Birkeland said Statoil intended to submit a plan for development and operation of the area to Norway's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in June. An integrated development of this part of the Halten Bank could embrace the Lavrans, Erland and Ragnfrid discoveries, as well as the 16 billion kroner Kristin development, said Statoil. Recoverable reserves in the four Halten Bank fields are estimated at 140 billion cu m of gas and 440 million bbl of oil and condensate. Meanwhile, Kristin, thought to alone hold in the region of 40 billion cu m of gas and 200 million bbl of condensate, has been tipped by Norway's Gas Supply Committee as one of three fields to supply gas to continental Europe over the next 15 years. Committee head Elisabeth Årrestad said Friday that Kristin, Sigyn and Oseberg Delta could collectively supply around 36 billion cu m of gas in 2002 to 2016. Sigyn and Oseberg Delta are scheduled onstream in 2002 and Kristin in 2005. Årrestad said the committee had also cleared the Statoil - operated Åsgard field to supply additional reserves of 1.3 billion cu m over the next 2 years. Statoil's Kvitebjørn field in the Norwegian North Sea and Mikkel in the Norwegian Sea had originally been earmarked to supply gas to Europe, but the committee now proposes Mikkel deliver to Czech company Transgas SP, and to Norsk Hydro-operated North Sea Grane field for reinjection. Kvitebjørn will supply gas in keeping with the existing Troll gas sales agreement. Together, the fields will supply around 64 billion cu m in 2003 to 2014. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is expected to decide gas allocations this summer.