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Discovered oil for NOK 100 billionGeophysicist Kari Langvik Østhus (30) made a discovery on her first try / Naming the field after Skarfjell in her hometown

- I was of course very happy when I heard about the discovery. It is an entire team standing behind this, but for me it is especially exciting considering it was my first license, says geophysicist Kari Langvik Østhus (30) in Wintershall.

She graduated from the University of Bergen and was given responsibility of mapping the license already in 2007, at the age of 25. Østhus barely worked at Skagen 44 and Revus before she started working in the Norwegian branch of the German giant Wintershall.

Two maternity leaves later, she can cheer for an oil discovery that may contain somewhere between 60 and 160 million barrels of oil - which is considered significant in Norwegian context. In pure oil value, with current oil prices in mind, the discovery is up to NOK 110 billion (€ 14,5 billion) with full impact. After expenses, taxes and fees are deducted, the companies can expect to be left with up to NOK 6-7 billion (€ 793 - 926 million).

Central role

CEO of Agora, Svein Ilebekk praises Østhus work. According to him, Østhus has played a central role in the license from the start with responsibility of both seismic interpretation and prospect generation.

- She was among the youngest in the entire organization and only had one year of experience at the time. She had a team consisting of experienced people that assisted her, but I think it's exciting that someone who initially had so little experience has done this job. Therefore, I sent a text message to Østhus with my congratulations, says Ilebekk.

Named the field

Geophysicist Østhus also got the honor of giving the discovery its name. She chose Skarfjell, named after the mountain above her family`s farm.

In two weeks, Østhus will return to work after her second maternity leave.

- It is not entirely decided what my next project will be. It might be some more work with this license or maybe something new.

She says that the team had faith in a discovery, but at the same time they also knew that two out of three wells are dry.

- There are always risks and the challenge is always to interpret things correctly.

The operator Wintershall says that it is important to emphasize that this is an exploration well and that there is a long way to go before any development.

Long way to go

- We think this is great but it is too early to conclude, says operating Manager of Wintershall Norge, Ellen Braune.

Braune estimates that there must be drilled at least two appraisal wells before the size of the discovery will be finally confirmed.
- On Skarfjell there have been drilled a vertical exploration well. We will not have answers on the surroundings until we have drilled appraisal wells. It is also important in order to confirm reservoir qualities, says Braun.

Sold 30 percent of the field before drilling

The operator Wintershall sold 30 percent of the discovery before drilling started. Canadian Nexen originally set in the driver's seat for the license, but gave up before the drilling decision.

German Wintershall is operator of the new Skarfjell discovery in the North Sea, which was announced yesterday. The discovery is located in a mature area close to the other undeveloped oil discoveries Grosbeak, Astero and Titan. The discovery is mentioned as a possible focus point in the area.

Preliminary estimates range between 60 and 160 million barrels of oil.

The license is owned by German Wintershall (35 percent), British-owned Agora Oil & Gas (20 percent), German Bayerngas (20 percent), Italian Edison International (15 percent) and German RWE Dea (10 percent), but there have been frequent ownership changes in recent years.

Canadian Nexen controlled the license from the start in 2006-2007 until the end of 2010, but suddenly decided to shut down all operations in Norway after several dry wells.

Wintershall took over the share, and for a period Wintershall owned 65 percent of the license. However, to reduce the risk, Wintershall sold 20 percent. Just before drilling started, Wintershall sold an additional 10 percent of the license, and was left with 30 percent of the discovery.

Wintershall is Germany's largest producer of oil and gas and had its best year ever in 2011 with an operating profit of one billion euros.

On the Norwegian continental shelf, the company is very ambitious. After the discoveries Maria, Knarr and Luno, the company hopes to reach a daily production of 50,000 barrels in 2015. With Skarfjell in the portfolio this may increase further. Among the companies that have reason to celebrate after the discovery are Agora and RWE Dea. Agora came in as the owner at the end of 2010, while RWE Dea bought 10 percent at the start of 2012. - The acquisition is part of the strategy to strengthen our position in our core areas, says a satisfied CEO of RWE Dea Norway, Hans-Joachim Polk.

Right before Easter, Agora sold the whole company for NOK 2,5 billion (€ 330,7 million) to British Cairn, during drilling of the new discovery. Still, Managing Director of Agora, Svein Ilebekk, is "very pleased to make a significant oil discovery in our first well on the Norwegian continental shelf."

Source: Dagens Næringsliv, 17.04.2012

Contact: Verena Sattel

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