Equinor believes that significant value remains to be unlocked on both the NCS and UKCS, making them both highly attractive to exploration.
Considering these areas as one subsurface province is an essential step to identifying and accessing the best opportunities, Alun Williams in Equinor says in their abstract for the NCS Recent Discoveries conference in May.
Prior to repositioning in the UK, Equinor’s UK exploration activity occurred to the west of Britain, primarily driven by a dominant cross-border sub-basalt position in the Faroes and the West of Shetlands. At that time the prolific North Sea activity was restricted to Norwegian waters, given Equinor’s dominance on the Norwegian shelf and infrastructure position. But in 2011 two occurrences triggered a return to exploration in the UK North Sea.
The first of these was the discovery of Johan Sverdrup field (in 2010), which demonstrated that giant discoveries can still be made in mature basins. The second was a change in Equinor’s organisational structure, which brought all of Equinor’s exploration activities into one unit under a head of Exploration.
Since this time Equinor has taken a ‘One North Sea’ approach to exploration, in which the region is treated as one subsurface domain.
The business unit covering exploration in Norway and the UK consists of a number of geographical Asset teams, and a ‘Regional and Access’ department who have responsibility for regional work and bid rounds covering the entire Norwegian and UK continental shelves.
In 2017 Equinor drilled three exploration wells in the UK. Two of these wells resulted in discoveries – the Mariner Segment 9 well discovered oil in the Paleocene Heimdal Formation in a step-out to the Mariner field, and the Verbier sidetrack discovered oil in the Upper Jurassic of the Outer Moray Firth.
Three contrasting wells will be drilled in 2018 – an appraisal to the Verbier discovery, an Upper Jurassic prospect on the East Shetland Platform called Pip, and a Triassic prospect in the Beryl Embayment called Bigfoot.