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Statoil executive vice president for exploration Tim Dodson. Image courtesy of Trond Isaksen/Statoil.

Norway’s Statoil may be slimming down its exploration program next year as it waits until 2017 to re-enter the Barents Sea.

Statoil’s executive vice president for exploration Tim Dodson told Bloomberg the company’s 2016 exploration program is “likely to be smaller” than this year’s campaign. 

The state-owned company is set to drill 16 operated wells in Norway this year, a small drop from the 21 operated wells it drilled in 2014.

Dodson told Bloomberg his company will be focusing its 2016 exploration efforts on the Krafla area of the North Sea.

He added that the company now plans to return to the Barents Sea in 2017 at the earliest following last year’s disappointing exploration campaign.

Statoil shelved its 2015 plans for the Barents Sea in January, citing high drilling costs and low oil prices.

The company said that month that it would spend the next year analyzing data collected from the 12 Barents Sea wells it drilled between 2013 and 2014.

The campaign turned up only a couple of commercial discoveries, with most of the finds being smaller than expected.

Dodson told Bloomberg the company plans to re-enter the play after it wins new blocks in an upcoming licensing round.

“In the Barents Sea, we’ve more or less tested the opportunity set which we have,” Dodson said.

Last week, Statoil said it will exit the U.S. Arctic because it not longer considers its Chukchi Sea leases “competitive” within its global portfolio.

The company will exit 16 operated leases and its stake in 50 leases operated by ConocoPhillips, all located in the Chukchi Sea, along with closing its office in Anchorage, Alaska.

The leases were awarded in 2008 and expire in 2020.