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OMV sets drilling record in Barents Sea

Company trying to survey the economic potential at northern Norwegian oil field.

By Daniel J. Graeber
OMV sets drilling record in Barents Sea
Austrian energy company OMV says it set a record for a shallow-water well in northern Norwegian waters. Photo courtesy of OMV

VIENNA, June 22 (UPI) -- Austrian energy company OMV said it set a drilling record with a horizontal appraisal well at an oil field in the northernmost waters of Norway.

The company said it completed drilling of an appraisal well in the Wisting oil discovery in the Barents Sea. The well was the first of its kind in the Barents Sea and is positioned in the northernmost oil discovery in Norwegian waters.

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"The Wisting Central II well is the first horizontal appraisal well in the Barents Sea and has set a new drilling record," the company said in an emailed statement. "It is the shallowest horizontal offshore well drilled from a floating drilling unit, with the targeted reservoir just 820 feet below seabed."

Barents Sea waters at the Wisting discovery are only about 1,300 feet. Drilling started in a vertical direction and then turned to a horizontal orientation before hitting its target.

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A paper from the U.S. Energy Information Administration written more than 10 years before the U.S. oil boom found horizontal drilling exposed "significantly" more reserves to drillers than conventional vertical wells. Production rates using horizontal wells were at the time up to seven times greater than vertical wells. An offset, however, is higher drilling costs.

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Tests conducted previously by OMV at Wisting yielded more than 5,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. The company said the appraisal plan is aimed at confirming the economic potential of the discovery.

The company estimated the preliminary size of the find at between 60 million and 160 million barrels of recoverable oil and between 10 billion and 40 billion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.

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