NW Europe offshore on the rise in 1996

Jan 30, 1997 01:00 AM

The number of new offshore oil and gas discoveries made in north-west Europe in 1996 was 63% higher than in 1995. 13 new discoveries were announced in the UK. Four were made in Norway, and seven in the Netherlands. There was one discovery in each of the Irish and Danish offshore sectors. Overall exploration and appraisal spuds in north-west Europe were up by 11% in 1996, in comparison with the year earlier. Some 102 new exploration and appraisal wells, including geological sidetracks, were drilled in the UK in 1996, compared with 98 in 1995. Norwegian drilling activity fell to 30 exploration and appraisal wells in 1996, from 36 in 1995. In contrast, exploration activity in the Netherlands more than doubled, with 29 new exploration and appraisal wells drilled in 1996 compared with 12 in 1995. Successful offshore exploration wells were 24% higher in the UK and 13% higher in the Netherlands. Norway did not do so well with 12% fewer successful exploration wells in 1996 than the previous year. In terms of onshore activity, there was just one new discovery in the UK in 1996. However, there were none in 1995. UK onshore exploration and appraisal spuds were up by 350% in 1996.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said 10 new oil and gas discoveries were made on the Norwegian continental shelf in 1996, of which six were oil, three were gas/condensate and one was gas. The NPD said none of these discoveries was as large as those in production today, but most should be developed as they lie near existing and planned infrastructure. All in the North Sea, the discoveries are said to have proven reserves of 100 mm to 190 mmcm of oil equivalent. Of this, some 60-115 mm cm is oil, an amount which failed to replace the 176m cu m produced off Norway in 1996. The situation for gas was reversed with the 40-75 mmcm of oil equivalent discovered in 1996, surpassing the 36 mmcm of oil equivalent produced. The largest two discoveries - both oil and gas and operated by Norsk Hydro - are 35/11-8S and 36/7-1. Each has recoverable reserves of 10-20 mmcm of oil equivalent. Three appraisal wells were also drilled in the Norwegian Sea, resulting in the directorate upgrading its original reserve estimates by 50-80 mmcm of oil equivalent. Discoveries appraised by wells 30/5-2 (Shell), 34/11-3 (Statoil) and 6406/2- 2 (Saga) have combined total reserves of 220-260 mmcm of oil equivalent. The NPD said it expected 1997 to be the most "exciting" exploration year since 1980, with the first wells to be drilled on deepwater structures in the Norwegian North Sea.

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