Norwegian energy company Equinor has discovered oil and gas in the Echino South exploration well by the Fram field in the North Sea, with estimated recoverable resources of 38 million to 100 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe).

The Echino South 35/11-23 exploration well was drilled to a vertical depth of 2947m below sea level at water depths of 350m, 3.2km south-west of the Fram field, which is in the PL090 licence in the North Sea.

Equinor is the operator of the PL090 licence, with an operating interest of 45%. Partners in the licence include ExxonMobil (25%), Idemitsu Petroleum (15%) and Neptune Energy (15%).

The primary exploration target for the well was to prove petroleum in the upper Jurassic reservoir of the Oxfordian age, while the secondary exploration target was to prove petroleum rocks of the middle Jurassic period.

Hydrocarbons were proven in both exploration targets, and Equinor plans to drill the 35/11-23 A sidetrack well to delineate the discovery in the upper Jurassic reservoir. The exploration well will be permanently plugged and abandoned after the sidetrack is drilled.

The well was drilled by the Deepsea Atlantic drilling rig, which will drill production wells on the Askeladd North field in the Barents Sea after drilling sidetrack 35/11-23 A.

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According to Equinor this discovery will add considerably to the company’s resources in the North Sea, and will likely be tied back to existing infrastructures including the Troll field, located around 20km from the Fram field.

Equinor senior vice president for exploration in Norway Nick Ashton said: “We are making one of this year’s biggest discoveries in the most mature area of the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), not far from the Troll field. This demonstrates the opportunities that still exist for value creation and revenue from this industry.

“After more than 50 years of geological surveys on the NCS, we are still learning something new and finding hydrocarbons where we previously thought there were none. By utilizing existing infrastructure, these resources may be recovered at good profitability and with low CO2 intensity.”