A recent wildcat confirmed an active petroleum system south of LofotenKarsten Eig. Photo: Halfdan Carstens.

A recent wildcat confirmed an active petroleum system south of Lofoten

The Toutatis technical discovery was a good confirmation that there might be commercial amounts of petroleum in the northeast corner of the Norwegian Sea towards the Vestfjord basin.

The recent wildcat 6611/11-1 (Toutatis) prospect proved non-commercial amounts of oil next to the Nordland V and VI area.

It seems to have passed people’s minds that this was a discovery well. However, the fact is that the well confirmed working petroleum system in this area near the Vestfjord Basin.

Therefore, the discovery may, in fact, spark renewed interest in this area.

The well encountered about seven metres of oil-bearing sandstones in the upper part of the assumed Lower Jurassic sequence with moderate to good reservoir quality, according to the press release by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD).

Two other wildcats in this area, 6610/3-1 and 6610/2-1 S, saw only oil and gas shows.

“With these two earlier wells in mind, Toutatis was a good confirmation that there might be commercial amounts of petroleum in the northeast corner of the Norwegian Sea towards the Vestfjord basin”, says geologist Karsten Eig, currently with Lime Petroleum.

“The Grønøy High is, therefore, likely to still attract interest from the exploration companies”, Eig says.

Eig has a solid knowledge foundation of the Lofoten and Vesterålen (LoVe) offshore and onshore areas as he obtained his Ph.D. on the structural geology in this area. He has been a loud and clear voice in the media when it comes to geology and prospectivity here.

Eig was one of the geologists working with the 2010 NPD resource evaluation report. As can be read from this report, he is also moderately optimistic when it comes to petroleum resources.

Yellow areas offshore mark areas with no on-going petroleum activity due to governmental restrictions. The red line delineates the sought-after area Nordland VI and VII, and Troms II. Source: norskpetroleum.no

“The P50 estimate for the Nordland VI (NVI), Nordland VII (NVII), and Troms II (TII) area is roughly 1.3 billion barrels recoverable oil and gas equivalents (Bboe)”, Eig explains, “most of it in Nordland VI. The areas further north on the narrow shelf experienced heavy uplift and have a low chance of retention of oil and gas. However, scientific drilling has already confirmed the presence of source rocks”.

Although 1.3 Bboe of petroleum is roughly half the amount of the reserves in the Johan Sverdrup field, these barrels are likely spread out across a lot of several smaller accumulations in NVI, VII and Troms II.

Recently, following a small stir in Norwegian news, an old debate on whether to open the area offshore Lofoten and Vesterålen for E&P made a swift comeback in the news.

On the NCS, the debated area is divided into Nordland V, NVI and NVII, and TII. The oil and gas exploration companies have wanted the NVI, NVII, and TII areas opened for a long time, hoping for additional reserves.

“The Toutatis discovery may also increase the level of conflict with the environmental movement and the green parties. It will, therefore, be very interesting to see if Nordland V (or parts of the now already open acreage) will be closed”, Eig continues.

“However, the likelihood of oil and gas in most of Nordland VII is very low”, explains Eig, “thus, Nordland VI, the southernmost of the closed areas, has the highest chance of finding oil and gas”.

Nordland VI has already been partly open, with two awarded production licenses (map). So far, this has resulted in one dry exploration well, the 6710/10-1, which reached total depth in the Late Cretaceous Springar Fm, but the well did prove good reservoir sands in the Late Cretaceous/Early Paleocene Tang Fm. The trap was a large, but mellow dome in the Cretaceous.

That well was to be followed by another well targeting a Jurassic horst block in PL 219 when Norsk Hydro (now part of Equinor) back in 2001 stopped on its way to the drill site. All activities were then put on hold, but the licenses themselves are still active.

“Norsk Hydro aimed for a prospect with clear amplitude anomalies. Therefore, the drilling results would have been crucial for the determination of the oil and gas potential “, Eig continues.

“Contrary to the impression often given by the industry, the petroleum potential of LoVe is probably moderate to small, and not of major importance for the NCS as signaled by lobby organization Norwegian Oil and Gas Association. The local impact on fisheries and the environment, however, might be strong. Therefore, the area offshore Lofoten and Vesterålen is mostly a symbol case that doesn’t really matter economically for the overall NCS”, concludes Eig.

Wintershall DEA will present the Toutatis technical discovery during the conference NCS Exploration – Recent Discoveries in Oslo on the 12th – 13th of May.

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Text: TERJE SOLBAKK

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