Equinor Energy discovers oil in North Sea well, evaluating profitability


In a notable development in the oil and gas sector, Equinor Energy AS has announced the discovery of oil in exploration well 30/12-3 S located in the North Sea, approximately 40 kilometres south of Oseberg and 150 kilometres west of Bergen. The discovery, executed by the Deepsea Stavanger drilling rig, marks a significant milestone for Equinor Energy AS and its partner Aker BP, the operator of production licence 272 B. This exploration well represents the first drilling activity within the licence area, highlighting the ongoing efforts to tap into the underexplored regions of the North Sea.

Oil Discovery in Well 30/12-3 S: A Closer Look

The exploration well, along with a sidetrack well 30/12-3 A, which turned out to be dry, was conducted on behalf of Aker BP. Both companies, Equinor Energy AS and Aker BP, hold equal ownership stakes of 50 per cent in the production licence 272 B, awarded during the APA 2018 round. The licence is part of the Munin field, a region that saw its initial discovery in 2011 and received approval for development and operation (PDO) from the authorities in June 2023.

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The well 30/12-3 S successfully proved the presence of oil, with estimates indicating between 0.15 and 0.55 million standard cubic metres (Sm3) of recoverable oil equivalent (o.e.). However, preliminary calculations suggest that the discovery might not be commercially viable under the current price assumptions, casting a shadow on the immediate development prospects of the find.

New Oil Discovery by Equinor and Aker BP in North Sea: Assessing Viability

New Oil Discovery by Equinor and Aker BP in North Sea: Assessing Viability

Geological Insights and Future Implications

The primary goal of the exploration was to ascertain the presence of petroleum in the Middle Jurassic reservoir rocks of the Tarbert Formation. The successful well encountered a 3.5-metre oil column within the Tarbert Formation, characterized by a sandstone reservoir of moderate quality. Despite the modest reservoir quality and the challenging geological conditions, such as the encountered oil/water contact below sea level, the discovery adds valuable data to the geological understanding of the region.

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The dry sidetrack well, 30/12-3 A, and the main well’s inability to yield a profitable outcome with the current market conditions, emphasize the complexities and risks associated with offshore oil exploration. The wells were not subjected to formation testing, although extensive data acquisition was carried out, contributing to the broader knowledge base of the North Sea’s geological characteristics.

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The discovery by Equinor Energy AS and Aker BP in the North Sea underscores the continuous potential and challenges of oil exploration in the region. While the immediate economic viability of well 30/12-3 S may be in question, the long-term insights gained from these operations are invaluable for future exploration strategies. The Munin field, alongside its recent addition, represents a critical piece in understanding the North Sea’s potential, even as the industry grapples with fluctuating oil prices and the push towards sustainable energy sources.

As Equinor Energy AS and Aker BP evaluate the next steps for the Munin field’s development, the industry watches closely. This discovery not only showcases the technical prowess and commitment of these companies to unlocking new resources but also highlights the inherent uncertainties of deep-sea exploration.

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