Statoil progresses Cat-I plans

Remote requirements: Having own rig is best for Statoil in Arctic, says Tim Dodson

Statoil is progressing plans to build its own Arctic offshore drilling rig to save money and increase safety at its assets in the Barents Sea and the north Atlantic.

In collaboration with suppliers, Statoil said it is developing the Cat-I rig to decrease its environmental footprint and help reduce costs, as well as avoid growing competition for rigs capable of drilling in Arctic conditions.

"We need an overall strategy that will help to explore and develop our Arctic basins in a safe, sustainable and cost-effective manner," Statoil executive vice president Tim Dodson told delegates at the World Petroleum Congress in Moscow on Monday.

Speaking in a special session at WPC on the challenges and opportunities of Arctic development, Dodson said: "To unlock the full potential of the Arctic and to make Arctic projects commercially viable and globally competitive, we need new technology and innovative business models.

"This is really a solution to operating remotely in the Arctic - in order to do that we need to develop a rig, or drillship, for robust and cost-efficient operations. The Cat-I rig is being designed from scratch to fit the needs of Arctic operations," he said.

Dividing its Arctic assets into three categories, the Norwegian state player is developing new approaches to deal with conditions ranging from shallow areas like the south Barents Sea and eastern Canada to significant ice in northwest Greenland, or continuous heavy ice in northeast Greenland, according to the Statoil boss.

"I think the Arctic, in addition to the Middle East and Russia, is one of the very few remaining areas with the potential to make huge discoveries," Dodson said. "The large resource potential is the driver for our position in the Arctic."

With global demand expected to increase 30% between now and 2040, collaboration among Arctic operators and governments will be a major driver behind successfully unlocking Arctic resources and getting it to market.

"We need to work with other oil companies and suppliers to develop Arctic solutions," he added.

Comparing the Arctic's potential for opportunity to Russia and the Middle East, the Statoil vice president said its setbacks are equally daunting, with climate, health and safety, environment and remoteness the biggest challenges and cost drivers.

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