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Lundin next driller in line for Barents Sea

Half of what's left in the territorial waters of Norway is in the Barents Sea.

By Daniel J. Graeber

OSLO, Norway, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- With an emerging focus on northern reserves, a Norwegian energy regulator said it gave a petroleum company approval to start drilling in the Barents Sea.

The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway said it gave its consent to Lundin to start drilling in a prospect about 135 miles northwest of Hammerfest in the Barents Sea.

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"Drilling is scheduled to begin in early September and will last 59 days, with an addition for a potential well test," the safety authority said in a statement.

Lundin said the Filicudi prospect holds an estimated 258 million barrels of gross oil equivalent.

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The PSA consent for Lundin is the authority's second in a month. In early August, Statoil was given approval to drill into the Snohvit natural gas field in the Barents Sea, a field with an estimated 525 billion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas and more than 130 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves.

Oslo estimates there are roughly 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent yet to be discovered in Norwegian waters. Half of that is in the Barents Sea and, this week, Statoil said it was extending its reach into the Barents Sea with plans to drill as many as seven new wells next year.

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Statoil said no new discoveries were made in the region during previous campaigns, though field studies added to the estimated reserve potential from basins already in its portfolio.

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In June, 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 in the Barents Sea. Horizontal drilling could be more costly, though production rates are at times seven times greater than vertical wells.

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