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Wintershall Dea lines up wells double off Norway

Operator to appraise Balderbraa find and test Gullstjerne prospect with potential tie-back boost for gas hub

German operator Wintershall Dea is gearing up for a pair of deep-water exploration wells that could add welcome resources to gas production facilities in the Norwegian Sea.

The wells in production licence 894 in the Voring basin are located at a water depth of about 1200 metres, between 108 and 120 kilometres south-west of the Aasta Hansteen field, which came on stream last year.

The first probe, scheduled for December at the earliest, is a wildcat to test the Gullstjerne prospect, while the subsequent well will appraise last year’s promising Balderbraa gas and condensate find, currently estimated to hold between 7 billion and 19 billion cubic metres of gas and 6 million to 19 million barrels of condensate.

The upcoming wells will help Wintershall Dea and Norwegian partners Equinor and Petoro decide whether to proceed with development planning for Balderbraa via the Aasta Hansteen facility, which needs additional resources as its original volumes will be mostly exhausted within a decade.

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With development costs of $4.1 billion for Aasta Hansteen and an additional $2.3 billion for the associated Polarled pipeline, field owners, including Wintershall Dea and Equinor, are keen to find and link new discoveries to the infrastructure to get a better return on their investments.

Other undeveloped discoveries in the deep-water Voring basin include Equinor-operated Asterix and Wintershall Dea-operated Hvitveis.

Both Gullstjerne and Balderbraa will explore the Springar 1, 2 and 3 reservoirs in the Springar formation, which also yielded the Balderbraa discovery. The wildcat is estimated to take between 44 days and 66 days to drill, while the appraisal could take up to 162 days if the operator goes ahead with two optional sidetracks and two well tests.

Wintershall Dea plans to use Saipem’s semi-submersible rig Scarabeo 8 for the wells. The rig is currently drilling a producer for Vaar Energi at the Marulk field and will then probe the Kathryn prospect near the Yme field for Repsol before starting work for Wintershall Dea towards the end of the year.

Elsewhere off Norway, Polish operator PGNiG has started drilling a wildcat at the Shrek prospect in the Norwegian Sea using Odfjell Drilling’s semisub Deepsea Nordkapp, about 4.5 kilometres south-east of Aker BP’s Skarv field to which a potential discovery could be linked.

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