Aker BP slashes Barents Sea exploration in 2020 Map of Aker BP exploration wells for 2020 with likely cuts in red/ red X. Map: norskpetroleum.no

Aker BP slashes Barents Sea exploration in 2020

The Russian border wildcat Stangnestind is postponed, and even more exploration wells are likely to be put on hold.

Aker BP announced that in response to the high uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the company has decided to cut its investment program and financial framework for 2020. This means that e.g.:

  • Non-sanctioned field development projects are put on hold. For 2020, this represents a CAPEX reduction of 20 per cent compared to previous guidance. For 2021-22 the initial estimate is a reduction in capital spending of USD 1-2 billion. These include e.g. the Hod redevelopment project in the Valhall area.
  • Exploration spending is reduced by 20 per cent in 2020, with further significant reductions planned for 2021-22

Aker BP had originally planned for ten wildcats in 2020. However, the Aker BP-operated wildcat near the Russian border, targeting the Stangnestind karst prospect, is now put on hold, Aker BP confirms to Expronews. Aker BP would not confirm which other, partner-operated wildcat they were postponing, awaiting the Operator’s announcement.

Further measures are being evaluated, including postponing additional exploration wells, says Aker BP.

Expronews have reason to believe that the already postponed wildcat is the Equinor-operated Shenzhou wildcat in PL722. Although, the other Equinor-operated wildcat on the Garantiana W prospect in PL554 in the North Sea is another candidate. Equinor will post an update of their 2020 plans at the end of this month (March).

Expronews has also talked to the other operators (Spirit and Lundin) where Aker BP is participating, and there is an on-going discussion on whether to drill or delay also in these licenses, but no decisions are taken, yet.