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Norsk Hydro discovers oil, gas with wildcat well in Barents Sea

Norsk Hydro discovers oil, gas with wildcat well in Barents Sea

Norsk Hydro ASA discovered oil and natural gas at a new Arctic prospect with a wildcat well in the Barents Sea off Norway's northern tip, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate announced Wednesday.
The well was drilled at Nucula prospect, some 65 kilometers (40 miles) off the northern village of Honningsvaag. While seen as promising, it was too early to estimate the extent of the find, a directorate news release said.
Norsk Hydro Vice President Tore Lilloe-Olsen, head of the petroleum and aluminum group's Norwegian exploration unit, also said the discovery was encouraging.
"However, it is important to emphasize that there is a need for further evaluation and analysis of collected data in order to ascertain whether or not the discovery is commercial," he said.
Norway is the world's third largest oil exporter, after Saudi Arabia and Russia, and sees the Arctic Barents Sea it shares with Russia as a key new frontier for maintaining production as flows from its more southern offshore fields decline.
The Snoehvit offshore natural gas field, operated by the state controlled oil company Statoil ASA is due to come on stream in the same area in December as the first offshore field in the Barents Sea.
The Norwegian branch of Italy's largest oil company, Eni SpA, stuck oil last year at its Goliat field, about 110 kilometers (70 miles) southwest of Norsk Hydro's new find. In January, Eni made a second find at Goliat.
The Norwegian government has allowed drilling in parts of the Barents Sea under strict environmental controls due to the fragile cold weather ecology of the region. It also fears that oil spills could foul the nearby Arctic coastline.
Lilloe-Olsen said the well was drilled by the Polar Pioneer offshore rig without incident or pollution.
Norsk Hydro and Eni each own a 30 percent share in the Nucula fields, while BG Norge ASA and the Norwegian state-owned Petoro AS each own 20 percent.
Statoil is expected to acquire Norsk Hydro's share as part of a plan announced in December to combine the two groups' oil operations into a new company.
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On the Net:
http://www.hydro.com
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