Norwegian state-owned Equinor, in partnership with Petoro and Eni, has completed an appraisal that confirms the discovery of additional recoverable oil in the Norwegian Sea.
The Cape Vulture drilling appraisal well in the Norne field has found an estimated potential volume of around 50 to 70 million barrels, which is more than double the amount of current oil reserves in Norne. The discovery brings a renewed boost to the production lifespan of Norne, extending activities well into 2036
Nick Ashton, Senior Vice President of Exploration for Norway and the UK for Equinor, said: “We are very pleased to have proven and appraised a new substantial oil discovery off the coast of Nordland. The appraisal well confirms a new play on the Nordland Ridge in the Norwegian Sea.”
The discovery, according to Ashton, is important in outlining Equinor’s exploration strategy. “We intend to take new approaches and try out new and untested ideas to unlock the remaining commercial resources on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). This is in line with Equinor’s recently updated roadmap for the NCS, which aims to secure activity for many decades to come.”
Ashton adds that the Cape Vulture appraisal well has led to new prospecting efforts at Nordland Ridge and nearby areas that could extend the production lifespan of Norne even further, just by using the current infrastructure that is available along the NCS.
Norne: Nordland’s first development
The Norne field is significant as the first field that indicated the beginning of oil exploration in 1997, in the northern part of Norway.
Current reserves in the Norne fields is said to be about 40 million barrels. Together with another four fields nearby, Marulk, Skuld, Urd, and Alve, there is a collective potential reserve of around 80 million barrels.
The drilling of the Cape Vulture appraisal well began in December 2016, by Songa Encourage, with production license no. 128. With the discovery from the Cape Vulture appraisal, which is situated 7 kilometres northwest of a production vessel in Norne, the reserves are now doubled, and according to Ashton, are “key to supporting our ambition to extend the lifespan of existing infrastructure.”
Production from Norne began in November 1997. It is 85 kilometres away from Heidrun and is 380 metres deep in the water. Development occurs through a storage and production ship that is tied to steel structures known as subsea templates. On-deck, there is a processing plant and tanks to store stabilised oil. Since February 2001, Norne has been exporting yields to continental Europe via the Norne Gas Export Pipeline, as well as the Asgard Transport trunkline.