Aug. 9 (UPI) -- A Norwegian regulator announced it signed off on a permit for a 44-day effort to search for new reserves in its territorial waters of the North Sea.
The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway gave Faroe Petroleum the permit necessary to use the Transocean Arctic rig to explore for oil and gas in the Rungne area of the North Sea.
"Drilling is scheduled to begin in October 2018 and last around 44 days, depending on whether a find is made," the PSA's statement read.
The drilling schedule is one month later than Faroe outlined in an operational update released Wednesday. The company said it has a "high quality" exploration and appraisal program scheduled for the remainder of the year, with reserves targeted by the Transocean rig estimated at around 70 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Faroe reported production averaged 12,402 boe per day during the first half of the year, at the low end of its guidance range. Production levels as of August were above range, however, at 15,200 boe per day.
Graham Stewart, the company's chief executive, said it was a strong player in the region with an estimated 42 million boe in its portfolio.
"We remain one of the most active and successful explorers in the sector with six further committed wells over the coming months with the Faroe-operated Rungne exploration well due to spud in September," he said in a statement.
Norway is an important oil and gas supplier for the European market, coming in at No. 2 behind Russia. An annual forecast from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the nation's energy regulator, found that just under half of all the expected resources on the continental shelf are in discoveries yet to be made.
Most of those undiscovered reserves are thought to be in the Barents Sea, with half of that in areas yet to be opened in the far north reaches of those waters.
The NPD estimated, however, that oil and gas production starts to decline gradually beyond 2025. If production levels are to continue at current rates of around 1.6 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, more production and proven discoveries are necessary.