Equinor Will Not Pursue Frontier Exploration in Norway’s Artic Sea

Equinor Will Not Pursue Frontier Exploration in Norway’s Artic Sea

Equinor is planning on reducing its focus on the frontier areas of the Barents Sea. This is impacting Norway’s ambition to build a new oil province in its Arctic region.

“Our focus going forward will be on the more prolific areas of the Barents Sea,” Tim Dodson, the company’s executive vice president for exploration, said in an interview on Tuesday. That means drilling near existing discoveries such as Johan Castberg and Wisting rather than riskier but potentially more rewarding targets, he said.

The Barents Sea southwest as not provided any positive outcome from its exploration. It is also close to the maritime border with Russia. high hopes attached to them because they were some of the biggest geological structures remaining off Norway.

The country was hoping to find new discoveries in the Barents Sea as decline in its petroleum production expected to start around the middle of the next decade. While the region remains the most promising with estimated undiscovered oil and gas, critical discoveries are needed to justify expensive developments.

“It was always a frontier area, almost a virgin area; we sometimes forget that there was high geological risk on this,” Dodson said. “You can say disappointing, but you could also add the words ‘not surprising’ to that.”

Equinor, in which the Norwegian government owns 67%, has been the most active explorer in the Barents Sea in recent years. Another explorer in the region, Lundin Petroleum AB, has said it will reassess its interest in the entire area if no major discoveries are made by the end of next year.

There are currently only two fields in production in the Barents Sea, the Snohvit and Galiat Equinor’s Castberg will start producing in 2022, but final investment decisions have yet to be made for the most likely candidates for future projects, Lundin’s Alta and Equinor’s Wisting.