Looking For Oil: Norway Strikes Out, Russia Hits

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Looking for Oil, Norway and Russia

With most of the world’s leader’s focused on the threat of global warming, is it possible that the most fundamental reason for a switch to renewable power sources has been lost?

A more fundamental reason to consider wind, solar and hydropower – and nuclear, if you are so inclined – is just because the planet may be running out of accessible oil. With long-productive reserves becoming less productive, oil companies are moving into increasingly remote and dangerous locations to drill exploratory wells in the hunt for fresh oil supplies.

News on Monday went both ways in this regard, as Norway’s government said that efforts to discover a new reserve near an existing North Sea reserve, had not panned out.

Even in the North Sea, the effort to expand an existing oil field by looking beyond the known perimeter of that field is known as drilling a “wildcat” well. Norway’s energy regulation agency the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said that wildcat drilling about four miles from the Volund Field – a field that is now down to a relatively modest 26.4 million barrels of oil – had found only trace amounts of oil in the rock strata deep below the surface.

The findings were so light that the regulator classified the new well as “dry.” At a water depth of 400 feet, “the well has now been permanently plugged and abandoned,” the agency said in a statement.

It is also plugged with disappointment. Along the way to giving up on the site, the drilling discovered “some thin, partially cemented sandstone layers .. with partially good reservoir properties.” But the promise of oil didn’t hold true once all the data was collected.

Above the Arctic Circle, Russian oil company Rosneft had better luck. Primary data from three core samples from the northern well in the Eastern Arctic at depths averaging 7,550 feet, indicates a new oil field has been found, with rock samples showing “high oil saturation,” Rosneft said.

The so-called Tsentraino-Olginskaya-1 well on the shore of the Khara-Tumus Peninsula yielded the samples that were “dominated with light oily fractions.” “By primary studies already, it can be concluded that a new oil field has been discovered, the volume of the resource potential of which is increasing as the drilling continues; core sampling continues at the moment,” Rosneft said in a statement.

Rosneft was awarded a license for Khatanga development in November 2017 and was given the go-ahead (the “command,” the company said) from Russian President Vladimir Putin to begin drilling on April 3. The efforts to date have been promising. “In fact, work on the whole petroleum province has been started, which, even according to preliminary data, contains millions of tons of oil equivalent,” Rosneft said. “This is just the first well. There is much more work ahead.”

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