Scandinavian Oil Firms Strike in the Arctic

Michael Teague  |

Less than a month after it was announced that Norwegian oil & gas major Statoil ASA (STO) was working with leading UK independent Tullow Plc ($TUWOY) on a discovery of reserves of up to 120 million barrels of crude in the Barents Sea, on Wednesday the Swedish exploration outfit Lundin Petroleum AB (LNDNF) announced that its own recent discovery in the Arctic waters could hold up to 145 million barrels of oil as well as 545 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

The Gohta field that Lundin currently seeks to bring online stands as one of the Northernmost discoveries in Norway’s portion of the Barents Sea, over 22 miles further into the Arctic than Statoil’s Snohvit gas prospect.

Lundin holds a 40 percent stake in Gohta, along with Det Norske Oljeselskap ASA ($DETNOR) who also have a 40 percent stake, and Norwegian Energy Co. ASA (NRWEF) in possession of the remaining 20 percent.

The significance of the recent finds goes beyond estimated reserves, however. Oil explorers and producers of all sizes and nationalities have recently warmed up once again to the notion of looking for payloads deep underneath the ocean floor, only three years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion that spilled untold barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

And while seemingly continuous discoveries of on-shore shale reserves in North America save companies working on the continent the trouble of having to make the relatively more risky ventures miles away from dry land, Scandinavian and Russian firms in particular have turned their attention to the icy waters of the Barents Sea. Indeed, for these Northern and Eastern European oil & gas firms, the Barents Sea is an absolutely vital part of the production landscape, despite the high-level, often sci-fi-esque technical know-how required to reach such reserves.

Shares for Statoil were unmoved on the NYSE in midday trading. Meanwhile, Lundin saw shares adding over a percent in Stockholm. Its partners in the Gohta prospect were the main beneficiaries of the announcement, however, with Norwegian Energy jumping over 10 percent, and Det Norske up nearly 3 percent.

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