Melting Arctic sea ice drives walruses onto land

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
WASHINGTON | Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:52pm EDT
(Reuters) – Original article here

Photo Credit: Liz Labunski/USFWS

Fast-melting Arctic sea ice appears to be pushing walruses to haul themselves out onto land, and many are moving around the area where oil leases have been sold, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

Walruses are accomplished divers and frequently plunge hundreds of feet (meters) to the bottom of the continental shelf to feed. But they use sea ice as platforms to give birth, nurse their young and elude predators, and when sea ice is scarce or non-existent, as it has been this summer, they come up on land.

Last September, the loss of sea ice caused an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 walruses to venture onto land, and as sea ice melts reached a record last month, U.S. government scientists are working with Alaskan villagers to put radio transmitters on some of the hauled-out walruses to track their movements around the Chukchi Sea.

“The ice is very widely dispersed and there is little of it left over the continental shelf,” researcher Chad Jay of the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement on Wednesday. “Based on our tracking data, the walruses appear to be spreading out and spending quite a bit of time looking for sea ice.”

The loss of sea ice puts Pacific walruses at risk, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but other, higher-priority species will get attention first. In February, the wildlife service listed Pacific walruses as candidates for protection, though not protection itself.

Walruses are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which means these animals cannot be harvested, imported, exported or be part of interstate commerce.

Polar bears, which also use sea ice in the Chukchi Sea as platforms for hunting, have been designated as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because of declining sea ice in the Arctic.

Compared to last year’s massive haul-out, there are few walruses on land, and there is no solid count, Jay said.

“There is a lot less ice than there used to be on the continental shelf this time of year,” he said. “So we might be headed into a new normal.”

Transmissions from the radio-tagged walruses offer a good picture of where these creatures are in the Chukchi Sea in a U.S. Geological Survey graphic updated approximately weekly.

SHRINKING ARCTIC SEA ICE

Available online here , the graphic shows where the walruses were when they were first tagged (shown as red Xs) and how they moved around the water (shown as yellow dots).

The graphic also shows changes in sea ice cover in the far north, indicating nearly ice-free conditions in areas where the walruses are moving. Many are within the boundaries of an oil lease sale area that stretches along the northwestern Alaska coast and far into the Chukchi Sea.

Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips and Statoil hold leases in the Chukchi Sea, though no drilling has started.

Last month saw Arctic sea ice drop to its lowest extent — meaning that it covered the smallest area — for any July since satellite records began in 1979, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. Typically, Arctic sea ice hits its lowest extent for the year in September.

This record-low ice extent for July is lower than July ice extent in 2007, when ice extent shrank in September to its smallest area in the satellite record.

(Editing by Sandra Maler)

Top quality Barents Sea oil

Barents Observer 2011-04-12 Original article here
The Polar Pioneer jackup rig (photo: Harald Pettersen / Statoil)The Polar Pioneer jackup rig (photo: Harald Pettersen / Statoil)

This oil is like champagne, Statoil’s Helge Lund says about the newly discovered Skrugard field in the Barents Sea.

Talking at the Energy Conference in Bergen today, Helge Lund underlined that the oil which his company has found in the Skrugard field in the Barents Sea is of the very best quality.

-The Skrugard oil is almost like champagne, he said in his presentation, newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reports. –It is light and nice, and makes us very optimistic, he added.

Read also: Finally large Barents oil discovery

The Statoil leader does not exclude that his company now has found a key approach to understanding the geology of the Barents Sea. Over the last years, a number of wells have been drilled in the area, but only a couple of fields of significance found. Statoil already operates the Snøhvit gas field, and ENI is preparing for production at its Goliat oil field.

In his conference presentation today, Helge Lund showed a map depicting the Snøhvit, the Goliat and the Skrugard fields. –This could actually be a new industrial horizon with three building blocks, he maintained.

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy now intends to offer a number of new licenses to blocks in the area of the Skrugard field. The finding of Skrugard has a significance which can not be exaggerated, State Secretary Per Rune Henriksen said at the conference, DN.no reports. In the course of spring this year, new licenses will be issued as part of the 21th Norwegian license round.

Norway now also intend to start geological mapping of the newly delineated waters further east in the Barents Sea. As previously reported by BarentsObserver, Norwegian authorities have on several occasions confirmed that seismic studies of the waters will start as soon as the delimitation deal has been ratified by both Norway and Russia. Russia completed the ratification process last week.

Read also: It’s a deal!

Statoil reports “significant oil find” in Barents Sea (Norwegian only)

Satoil, April 1.st 2011 – Original article here

Statoil har sammen med partnerne Eni Norge og Petoro gjort et betydelig oljefunn på Skrugard-prospektet i Barentshavet. Funnet er et gjennombrudd i dette uutforskede området og en av de viktigste lete-hendelsene på norsk sokkel de siste ti årene.

Statoil er sammen med partnerskapet i ferd med å avslutte boringen på Skrugard-prospektet som ligger ca. 100 kilometer nord for Snøhvit-feltet i Barentshavet.

Brønnen, som er boret med riggen Polar Pioneer, har påvist en gasskolonne på 33 meter og en oljekolonne på 90 meter. Oljen er av lett og fin produserbar kvalitet.

Dette gir estimerte volumer på mellom 150 og 250 millioner fat utvinnbare olje-ekvivalenter (o.e.) i funnet, samtidig som Statoil ser muligheter for ytterligere oppside i lisensen på inntil 250 millioner fat, totalt 500 millioner fat o.e.

BildeKonserndirektør for leting i Statoil, Tim Dodson.

– Funnet på Skrugard er betydelig og et gjennombrudd for frontier-leting i Barentshavet. Dette åpner en ny oljeprovins som kan gi ytterligere ressurstilvekst, sier konserndirektør for leting i Statoil, Tim Dodson.

Han understreker at det er for tidlig å si noe om det totale potensialet i området, men drister seg likevel til å karakterisere Skrugard-funnet som den viktigste letehendelsen på norsk sokkel de siste ti årene. Funnet er viktig for å opprettholde aktiviteten i teknologi- og kompetansemiljøene i oljeindustrien fremover.

Statoil har i sine planer lagt inn både boring av nytt prospekt i samme lisens neste år, samt en mulig avgrensningsboring på funnet.

Skrugard-prospektet var Statoils første prioritet i den 20. konsesjonsrunden på norsk sokkel som ble tildelt i april 2009. I løpet av våren vil myndighetene tildele leteareal i 21. konsesjonsrunde der areal i nærliggende områder av Skrugard forventes tildelt.

Boreoperasjonene har vært gjennomført på en sikker, effektiv og miljøvennlig måte. Det er tatt flere kjerneprøver for å forstå reservoaregenskapene og fortsatt gjenstår noe datainnsamling i brønnen.

Totalt er det boret mer enn 80 brønner i Barentshavet Sør og Statoil har vært operatør for mer enn 60 av disse. Snøhvit hvor Statoil er operatør, er det eneste feltsenteret som hittil er etablert i Barentshavet, mens Enis Goliat-felt er under utbygging.

– Barentshavet er stort, og vi kan ikke med dette si at vi har knekket koden for hele området, men vi har fått bekreftet at letemodellen vår er riktig. Det er et gjennombrudd og det er et viktig steg for å forstå hvordan geologien, og dermed hydrokarbonsystemene i Barentshavet fungerer, sier Dodson.

– Dersom volumanslagene blir bekreftet, vil dette funnet kunne gi grunnlag for en selvstendig utbygging. Med tanke på at det tar mellom 5 og 10 år fra funn til produksjon, så er det nå vi planlegger for fremtiden. Vi har ambisjoner om å få satt dette i produksjon raskest mulig, sier han.

Statoil er operatør for lisens 532 med en andel på 50 prosent. Partnere er Eni (30 prosent) og Petoro (20 prosent).

Bilde

UPDATE 3-Big Statoil Arctic find revives Norway’s oil future (Reuters)

April 1st. 2011, Reuters, Original article here

* Skrugard holds 150-250 mln boe recoverable reserves

* Potential upside for total 500 mln boe

* Most significant off Norway in last decade

* Nearby prospect could also have big potential

* Statoil shares to three-and-a-half-year high

(Adds environmental concern, updates shares)

By Gwladys Fouche and Henrik Stoelen

OSLO, April 1 (Reuters) – Norway’s Statoil (STL.OL) has made a big oil find in the Arctic North, the firm said on Friday, breathing new life into Norway’s declining oil prospects and lifting the company’s shares to a 3.5-year high.

The company said the 150-250 million barrels of oil equivalent Skrugard discovery in the Barents Sea could potentially hold up to 500 million barrels and is the most significant off Norway in the last decade. It said a nearby prospect also looked promising. “This is fantastic, a breakthrough for us in this section of the Barents Sea,” Gro Gunleiksrud Haatvedt, Statoil’s head of exploration off Norway, told Reuters.

“This find will lead to a new boom in exploration in the area,” said Magnus Smistad, an analyst at Fondsfinans. “This is an exciting area and the potential could be even bigger.”

Statoil shares were up 2.2 percent to 156.7 crowns at 1612 GMT while shares in Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI), which has a 30 percent stake in the licence, were up 1.85 percent to 17.65 euros.

Norway is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and the second-largest for gas but its oil output has been declining since 2001 and oil discoveries have become ever smaller.

In January Norwegian authorities slashed their estimates for offshore undiscovered oil and gas resources by 21 percent to 16.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent, making the country less attractive to oil majors — until today. [ID:nLDE70B1MD]

“This discovery is the missing element needed to develop the Barents Sea into an oil province over the long-term,” Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe said in a statement.

Finding oil in the Barents Sea has been tough. More than 80 exploration wells have been drilled there since 1980 but only two discoveries have been made — Statoil’s Snoehvit gas field and Eni’s Goliat oilfield.

Discovered in 2000, Goliat was the biggest oil find made in the Norwegian Barents Sea until now, with an estimated 240 million barrels in oil equivalent.

The find could lead to renewed concern about the impact of oil activity in a remote part of the Arctic, following the BP (BP.L) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Before drilling on Skrugard began last year, the Norwegian Polar Institute expressed worries about the potential impact of oil leaks that could get trapped in the Arctic sea ice, which extends to within some 150 kilometres (93 miles) north of Skrugard.

Haatvedt said Statoil would drill another well at Skrugard next year, which is about two-third oil and one-third gas, as well as another well at a nearby prospect.

“The other prospect has big potential, with a strong upside,” the executive said, declining to offer more details. The third partner in the license is Norwegian state-owned firm Petoro, which holds a 20 percent stake.

“It takes between 5 to 10 years from making a discovery to production, so we are planning for the future now … “We want to start production as soon as possible,” Statoil said, adding that it saw possibilities for a stand-alone production installation for Skrugard.

(Editing by Richard Mably and Jason Neely)

Statoil orders control umbilicals for Fossekall-Dompap

Oil and Gas Journal – Original article here.

HOUSTON, Mar. 23 — Statoil let a 200 million kroner contract to Aker Solutions for control umbilicals for the fast-track Fossekall-Dompap subsea development that will tie back the fields to the Norne floating production, storage, and offloading vessel in 380 m of water on Block 6608/10 in the Norwegian Sea. Fossekall, discovered in 2010 with well 6608/10-14, and Dompap, discovered in 2009 with well 6608/10-12, along with Vilje South are part of Statoil’s second-wave of fast-track projects. Statoil plans to start development drilling on the fields in March 2012 with production starting in December 2012. Statoil expects to recover from Fossekall 37-63 million bbl of oil and 1-3 billion cu m of gas. The company drilled the Fossekall discovery well, in 352 m of water, to 2,749 m into the Lower Jurassic Are formation and encountered oil in the Ile, Tofte, and Are formations and gas in the Melke formation. For Dompap, Statoil’s preliminary estimate is that the field holds 25-50 million bbl of recoverable oil. It drilled the exploration well 6608/10-12 to 3,158 m into the Lower Jurassic Are formation. Statoil also drilled the 6608-12 A sidetrack to 2,931 m that terminates in the same Are formation. The well is in 334 m of water. The 26 km of umbilicals ordered from Aker Solutions will have dynamic and static sections and will provide hydraulic, electrical, and fiber optic functions for three planned four-well-slot templates on Fossekall-Dompap. The umbilicals also include a 2.5-in. monoethylene glycol line for hydrate prevention and inhibition during shutdowns. Aker Solutions plans to manage the engineering of the control umbilicals at its Oslo facility and manufacture the umbilicals at its facility in Moss, Norway. It expects to make the final deliveries in second-quarter 2012. Fossekall-Dompap are in PL 128 and operator Statoil holds a 63.95% interest in the license. Partners are Petoro AS 24.55% and Eni Norge AS 11.5%.

New Norwegian oil minister open to Arctic drilling

March 4, 2011 | 08:07
Reuters Original article here
Norway replaced its oil and energy minister on Friday, appointing a rising politician who is more open than his predecessor to the prospect of drilling in a pristine Arctic archipelago.

Terje Riis-Johansen, who personally opposed drilling in the Lofoten region, resigned after months of criticism of his handling of a costly and delayed carbon capture facility and a plan to build power cable across a scenic fjord.

He was replaced by fellow Centre Party politician Ola Borten Moe, a 34-year-old farmer who is the grandson of former Prime Minister Per Borten and a rising star in Norwegian politics.

The oil industry has said that only by allowing drilling off the Lofoten Islands, a region rich in fish and unique cold-water reefs, can Norway prolong its oil boom as output from North Sea oilfields dwindles.

“Under certain circumstances I would not exclude the opportunity (of drilling in Lofoten),” Moe told Reuters after being presented to the King as the new oil minister.

Norway is the world’s No. 5 oil exporter and No. 2 gas exporter, although its oil output, now about 2 million barrels per day, has dropped by a third since peaking in 2001.

Moe said his position was consistent with the Centre Party view that no formal impact assessment of drilling off the Lofotens should be allowed during this parliamentary term, which ends in 2013.

The Labour-led coalition government is discussing whether to carry out such a study, largely seen as a stepping stone to opening the region for oil exploration.

Moe has said previously three conditions would need to be met for him to support drilling: Norwegian oil firm Statoil would need to show greater efforts on safety and the environment; oil spill preparedness must be improved; and jobs would have to be created in northern Norway region.

Moe told Reuters he was in favour of building gas power plants in Norway, a controversial topic in a Nordic country whose electricity is generated by hydroelectric power, although their emissions should be captured by carbon capture and storage.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said his government’s energy policy would remain largely unaffected by the minister. “(Moe) stands on the same political foundation as the whole government,” Stoltenberg told Reuters.

“Everyone who is interpreting things should take it easy.”

Aside from environmental controversies, Riis-Johansen has taken heat over revelations that his ministry awarded power generation concessions to two publicly-owned companies that made illegal donations to his agrarian-backed Centre Party.

Total want to drill Barents with Rosnef

Barents Observer 2011-02-16 – original article here
Total in the Barents SeaCooperates with Gazprom on Shtokman gas – wants cooperation with Rosneft on Barents oil.

French petroleum major Total is in talks with Russia’s oil major Rosneft on joint projects in the Barents Sea, General Director of Total in Russia Pierre Nergararyan told reports in Moscow on Wednesday.

Nergararyan told RIA Novosti that Total want partnership with Rosneft on both the continental shelf in the Barents- and Black Seas.

Total and Norway’s Statoil are partners with Gazprom in Shtokman Development AG, supposed to announce a decision on possible investments for the huge gas field in the Barents Sea next month.

Last October, the Russian Government granted Rosneft and Gazprom five new licenses to oil and gas fields in the Kara Sea and Barents Sea.

In December, BP and Rosneft said they had formed a strategic partnership for development of offshore oilfields in the Kara Sea, east of Novaya Zemlya in the Russian Arctic.