In August-September, Hydro will start exploration drilling on the Solsikke prospect in the Norwegian Sea, northwest of Kristiansund. The block is located in the deepest water depth ever drilled, around 100 kilometers west of Ormen Lange, and is so far the last of the licenses awarded in the 16th licensing round to be tested.
Exploration Manager for the Norwegian shelf in Hydro Oil & Energy, Nils Telnжs, is carefully optimistic before the exploration drilling starts on block 6403/10.
"This is our last exploration well to be drilled this year as operator on the Norwegian shelf, and for this reason the expectations are high. If we find oil and gas, it could be a commercial discovery. Still, it is important to emphasize that other promising prospects awarded in the 16th round did not meet our expectations, so we should not raise our hopes too high," Telnaes says.
Hydro has an ownership share of 50 percent in the license. Hence, the Solsikke prospect is of considerable financial importance to the company. In addition, it could also give Hydro an important strategic position. "The prospect gives Hydro the opportunity to position itself in a new area. Another discovery in this area, in addition to Ormen Lange and promising awards in the 17th round, will give us a strong position on the mid-Norwegian shelf."
Irrespective of the drilling results, Solsikke will break new ground for Hydro and for activities on the Norwegian shelf, as the exploration drilling will be carried out in the deepest water ever in Norway. "Hydro has no problems realizing tasks the company believes in - even on great water depths. Based on experience from the Ormen Lange project, we are comfortable in deep water. Drilling on Solsikke will be carried out in a water depth of nearly 1,800 meters. "This is of course a complicated operation in an area often exposed to bad weather and with an uneven seabed. However, the real challenge will be to prove commercial resources of oil and gas. "We are excited, of course, but this work requires patience. The chances of drilling a dry hole is often higher than finding oil," Telnaes points out.
The Solsikke license, no. 253, covers blocks 6402/12 and 6403/10. "Parts of the drilling operation require relatively calm weather. Based on BP's experience with the Havsula-well last winter, it is important to start drilling as early as possible," Telnaes says.
The license holders of Solsikke are Hydro as operator with 50 percent; RWE-DEA with 30 percent and Petoro with the remaining 20 percent.