Statoil has decided to defer its planned Chukchi Sea exploration drilling from 2014, with drilling now expected to start in 2015 at the earliest, Jim Schwartz, Statoil’s head of communications in Houston, confirmed to Petroleum News Sept. 5. And the company has not yet made a firm decision on that possible 2015 well, he said.
Schwartz said that Statoil has been observing the continuing delays to the start of Shell’s Chukchi Sea exploration drilling program.
“In the light of the significant uncertainty regarding Alaska offshore exploration, we’ve decided to take what we believe is a prudent step of observing the outcome of Shell’s efforts before finalizing our own exploration timeframe,” he said.
Statoil believes it to be important to observe the timing and outcome of obtaining permits and regulatory approvals, and demonstrating that “exploration operations can be reliably and cost efficiently conducted in the field in this very dynamic and challenging environment,” Schwartz said.
Statoil is proceeding with efforts targeting the submission of a Chukchi Sea exploration plan in mid-2013 for that possible 2015 well, he said.
3-D surveyHaving purchased 16 leases in the northern Chukchi Sea in the U.S. Minerals Management Service’s 2008 Chukchi Sea lease sale, Statoil carried out a 3-D survey over its leases during the 2010 open water season. The company identified two promising looking prospects — the Augustine and Amundsen — and planned to initially target Amundsen, the larger of the two. The company anticipates finding oil in rocks of what geologists refer to as the “rift sequence” in this prospect.
In 2011 Statoil conducted shallow hazard and geotechnical surveys at potential drill sites and earlier this year announced its intentions to drill its first well in 2014, probably using a jack-up drilling rig. However, the company has clearly rethought its plans in the light of Shell’s recent experience.
Statoil is also partnering in the exploration of ConocoPhillips’ Chukchi Sea Devil’s Paw prospect, some distance to the south of Statoil’s leases. ConocoPhillips has said that it plans to drill at Devil’s Paw in 2014.