Equinor's relentless exploration drilling drive offshore Norway has turned to a new prospect near the producing Kristin and Mikkel fields in the Norwegian Sea west of Trondheim.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) on Monday granted Equinor a drilling permit for the wildcat exploration well 6406/5-2S in Block PL255B.

The prospect name is Tott West, and it is located in water depths of 304 metres. The well is to be drilled using the semi-submersible Deepsea Stavanger.

The NPD's approval means the well can spud this month.

Equinor has a 35% operating interest, TotalEnergies has 35% and Petoro has 30%.

Exploration drilling is an essential part of Equinor's business, and the company plans to drill about 35 exploration wells this year in Norway.

The company spent more than $1 billion globally on exploration in 2022, of which nearly half was invested in Norway.

The company's exploration strategy is to target volumes in mature areas where discoveries can be tied in to existing infrastructure.

About 80% of the exploration wells will be in known areas close to infrastructure, but new selected areas and ideas will also be tested, the company says.

“We will drill wells based on three main criteria: high profitability and low break-even prices, short payback period and low carbon intensity. Exploration is essential to maintaining the cash flow from the NCS (Norwegian continental shelf) and securing the necessary gas volumes for the development of a blue hydrogen value chain.”