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Few rigs and expensive housing provides trouble for WintershallWintershall's Skarfjell discovery may be a new Maria, but a tough rig market and problems in recruiting enough people in Stavanger can be a challenge.

In April, the German oil company said that it had found oil and gas in the Skarfjell prospect in the northeastern part of the North Sea.

The Skarfjell discovery is located about 17 km southwest of the Gjøa field and between the Grosbeak discovery in the south, and the Titan discovery in the north. Preliminary resource estimates range between 60 and 160 million barrels of recoverable oil.

- This could be our next Maria, says Managing Director of Wintershall Norway, Bernd Schrimpf, to Aftenbladet.

The first major project

The Maria discovery is considered as one of the largest and most important oil discoveries in recent years, with an estimate of between 60 and 120 million barrels of oil. This is Wintershall's first major project on the Norwegian shelf.

Wintershall increased its share in the field from 25 percent to 50 percent in 2011. The production of the Maria field is scheduled to start in 2016.

- In the area around Skarfjell the potential for more discoveries is large, so the area can become a new focal point. But it is too early to say anything about which solution we are going to choose. First, we have to drill an appraisal well next year, says Schrimpf.

Wintershall expands its focus on the Norwegian continental shelf and will invest nearly two billion euros in Norway and the UK until 2015. More than half of this will go to the Norwegian shelf.

Limited rig access

Although the company is investing heavily in Norway, Schrimpf claims that the company did meet some challenges in Norway. One of the problems is the availability of rigs.
- If you find something and decide to drill an appraisal well, you must first plan this between six and nine months. In addition, you must often wait for an available rig, he says.

- Due to strict rules on the Norwegian continental shelf, it is a very tight market. Bringing a rig to the Norwegian shelf takes too long. For example, you cannot just move a rig from the British or Dutch continental shelf to Norway - and that is a problem.

Expensive housing

According to Schrimpf, another problem is to find the best people in Stavanger, as well as getting people from elsewhere in the world to move here.

- Stavanger is a limited market, and we all fish in the same sea.

Expensive houses make it difficult to find people who want to move to Stavanger.

- If the Norwegian oil industry is to achieve its goal of increased production, the supplier market has to grow by 50 percent. That will be a challenge, and if we do not achieve it, we may see that projects are being postponed, says Schrimpf.

Wintershall has over 40 licenses in Norway and operates over 20 of them. Wintershall has an ambition to increase production from current 4,000 barrels oil to 50 000 barrels of oil until 2015 in Norway and the UK.

Source: Stavanger Aftenblad, May 10, 2012

Contact: Verena Sattel

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