The recoverable preliminarily estimated resources of the Sputnik discovery in licence PL855 are 20-65 million barrels of oil


Image: Equinor reports light oil discovery in Barents Sea through the drilling of the Sputnik well. Photo: courtesy of C Morrison/Pixabay.

Equinor and its partners have reported a new light oil discovery following the drilling of the Sputnik exploration well (Well 7324/6-1) in the Norwegian licence PL855 in the Barents Sea.

The Norwegian oil and gas giant said that the recoverable preliminarily estimated resources of the Sputnik discovery are 20-65 million barrels of oil. Sputnik, which was drilled by the West Hercules semi-submersible drilling rig, is located nearly 30km north east of the Wisting discovery.

How the Sputnik discovery was made

The exploration well was drilled to a vertical depth of 1569m below the seabed where it intersected a 15-metre oil column in a Triassic sandstone reservoir. Equinor said that fluid samples from the discovery contain light oil and water.

According to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), the wildcat well encountered an approximate 60m sandstone layer having poor reservoir quality in the upper part of the Snadd formation. The reservoir, which is aquiferous with presence of oil, is at the same stratigraphic level where oil was proven by the Gemini Nord well.

In 2017, Equinor through the drilling of the Gemini Nord well achieved a very small, uncommercial oil discovery in a reservoir channel system located in the PL855 licence.

About a year later, a larger channel complex was targeted in the neighbouring PL615 licence through the Intrepid Eagle well. Intrepid Eagle proved a 200m gas column, but could not find oil.

Equinor said that Sputnik well, which is the second well in the PL855 licence, has proven oil in a large channel system. The company plans to undertake detailed fluid analysis along with geological and geophysical mapping for a comprehensive understanding of the commercial potential of the Sputnik discovery.

Equinor Norway and the UK exploration senior vice president Nick Ashton said: “We are encouraged by this result as it confirms the presence of oil north of the Wisting discovery, where Equinor has acquired a strong acreage position.

“The geology in the Barents Sea is complex, and more work lies ahead to determine commerciality. But this discovery shows that persistence and our ability to learn from previous well results does pay off.”

The Norwegian oil and gas major is the operator of the PL855 licence with a stake of 55%. It is partnered by OMV (25%) and Petoro (20%) in the offshore Norwegian licence.