Statoil has been given the green light by Norway’s safety agency to drill a further wildcat in the frontier Hoop area of the Barents Sea where environmentalists have tried to block drilling work.
The 7325/1 probe targeting the Atlantis prospect in Statoil-operated production licence 615 will be drilled by the same rig, Transocean Spitsbergen, that spudded the initial well of the controversial campaign at Apollo this week.
The second well, with an estimated duration of 44 days, is set to be spudded later this month back-to-back with the current probe, which is expected to take 31 days.
The rig was last week boarded by Greenpeace activists who were later removed by police and the green group’s protest vessel Esperanza then tried to occupy the Apollo drilling site before being towed away by the Coast Guard.
The group fears a potential oil spill from drilling in the eco-sensitive play could reach the Bear Island nature reserve farther north and also encroach on the Arctic ice edge.
The primary target for the Atlantis well is the Triassic Kobbe formation, with secondary targets in the Klappmyss and Snadd formations. The probe has an estimated total depth of 2799 metres.
Statoil operates the licence with a 35% stake, with partners ConocoPhillips (25%), OMV (20%) and Petoro (20%).