State-Run Energy Companies Score a Pair of Offshore Gas Discoveries

Michael Teague |

Two major state-run energy companies have reported new offshore gas discoveries in recent days.

Late last week, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said that Statoil ASA (STO) , majority government-owned, has just happened upon a high quality gas column while searching for oil in the Eastern portion of the Visund field in the North Sea. According to preliminary estimates, the discovery, roughly 2 miles beneath the surface of the ocean, contains anywhere between 3 and 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent.

The licensees working with Statoil on the North Sea well include the Scandinavian subsidiaries of Western majors ConocoPhillips (COP) and French oil giant Total SA (TOT) are currently deciding whether and how to connect the discovery to already existing infrastructure in the Visund field.

Meanwhile, Chinese drilling and exploration giant CNOOC Ltd. (CEO) is reporting a find in the hydrocarbon rich Bohai Bay off the country’s Southeastern coast. Tests at the nearly three-mile deep reservoir revealed a production capacity of 14.2 million cubic feet per day, what the company is describing as a “mid-size” discovery.

The find is the latest in the Bohai Bay since exploration wells hit both oil and gas there last July. More recently, CNOOC hit gas last week in the Qiong Dongnan Basin located in the substantially deeper waters of the South China Sea.

The news made no discernible impact in terms of Tuesday’s trading session, with shares for Statoil up about one third of a percent, while CNOOC saw shares barely budge, on slight gains of 0.02 percent. All the same, it can be seen as a confirmation of the increasing emphasis state-run oil and gas companies have been putting on increasingly fruitful offshore exploration.

Much of the exploration discourse in the US in recent years has been overtaken by shale and other unconventional plays, and as such has brought greater attention to the independent producers who have driven that trend. Government controlled giants for their part, and in particular the enormous companies that have emerged more recently out of rapidly developing nations such as China, have increasingly found themselves in the same boat as their publicly-traded “super-major” Western counterparts like ExxonMobil (XOM) , BP plc (BP) , and Chevron (CVX) when it comes to finding new reserves.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:


Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
BP BP p.l.c. 36.25 0.20 0.55 4,214,936
CEO CNOOC Limited 137.18 -0.93 -0.67 65,501
COP ConocoPhillips 41.54 0.05 0.12 5,553,212
CVX Chevron Corporation 101.30 -0.57 -0.56 5,622,393
POETF Poet Technologies Inc 0.44 0.01 1.86 21,925
STO Statoil ASA 16.52 0.02 0.12 1,515,077
TOT Total S.A. 48.28 -0.26 -0.54 1,430,647
XOM Exxon Mobil Corporation 86.62 -0.59 -0.68 10,736,170


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