April 13 (UPI) -- A drilling rig from Transocean will move into the northern waters of the North Sea for exploratory drilling, the Norwegian government said.
The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority said Friday it gave consent to energy company Wellesley to drill an exploration well in a North Sea prospect dubbed Kallåsen. Drilling will be done by the Transocean Arctic rig in deep waters.
"Drilling is scheduled to begin in early May," the government authority stated. "The drilling operation is estimated to last 28 days if the well is dry and up to 71 days if hydrocarbons are found."
In March, the PSA issued an order to Transocean following an audit that ended in early February at the company's Spitsbergen mobile drilling unit after identifying "a number of breaches," adding several non-conformities were "related to conditions identified during audits of other Transocean facilities."
Norwegian energy company Statoil and its partners working in the British offshore license areas contracted Transocean last year for use of its Spitsbergen rig for three exploration wells and six production wells. Securing the rig for Statoil was part of an effort to tap into the Mariner field, which was expected to reach a peak production rate of around 55,000 barrels of oil per day later this year
Wellesley Petroleum in January announced its contract with Transocean would start no later than June. The company said it's planning to drill two exploration wells in the license area.
Norway is one of the world's leading oil and gas producers and sends nearly most of its production from offshore to the European market, making it the region's top supplier after Russia.
Norge Bank, the country's central bank, said growth for the Norwegian economy was moderate and expected to remain that way into the middle of next year. In a fourth quarter survey, the government said mainland growth in gross domestic product was just under 2 percent, a level indicative of healthy growth, for the last three quarters.