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Statoil awarded six licensing options in Atlantic Margin

Sunday business Post

Largest ever number of applicants for offshore options

Statoil Exploration has been awarded six licensing options in Ireland’s 2015 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round.

The company will be the operator of four and partner in two licensing options, operated by ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore South) Limited.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has published a map with grid locations for the options awarded in the first phase of this licensing round.

Statoil has been awarded 7,700 km2 in the Porcupine Basin in water depths ranging between 1,100 and 3,150 metres. Statoil and ExxonMobil each hold 50 per cent equity in all the licensing options.

Work programme commitments are limited to 2D and 3D seismic surveys to be acquired during 2016 and 2017.

The analysis of that seismic data will then determine whether the company will seek to convert the options into frontier exploration licenses, enabling possible exploration drilling at a later stage.

“We are pleased with these awards that will see Statoil re-entering the Irish exploration scene. This supports Statoil’s exploration strategy of early access at scale and enables us to apply the exploration knowledge and experience we have gained globally and specifically on the conjugate margin offshore Newfoundland. We look forward to working with ExxonMobil on exploring these opportunities,” says Erling Vågnes, senior vice president of northern hemisphere exploration at Statoil.

Statoil has had a presence in Ireland since 1992. Currently, the company’s main asset in Ireland is a 36.5 per cent interest in the Shell-operated Corrib gas field off the country’s north-west coast.

According to analyst comment from Davy, several smaller companies (including Providence Resources), which were already in situ, will feel that their pathfinder activity has been validated, by the news.

The Department’s Petroleum Affairs Division (PAD) has published a new concession map showing the acreage awarded. (see picture).

It points to the exact location of very experienced deepwater exploration groups such as Exxon, Statoil and Nexen. The presence of Exxon, which partnered Providence in the Dunquin well that established oil as the hydrocarbon phase in the southern Porcupine, and Statoil is of note.

Minister Joe McHugh said “The response to the round has been extremely positive, with 43 applications for licensing options received by the deadline of September 2015. This is by far the largest number of applications received in any licensing round held in the Irish offshore. At a time of very low oil prices the strong interest in the Round is very positive.”

He added “Industry’s response to the round demonstrates the perceived positive exploration opportunity of Ireland’s offshore and highlights confidence in the Irish regulatory process and the ability of industry to do business in Ireland.”

The offer of awards involves eight companies, Eni, Europa, ExxonMobil, Nexen, Scotia, Statoil and Woodside as Operators, along with BP who will partner with Eni. The second and final phase of awards is planned for mid-May.

Posted Date: 
12 March 2016