Statoil has made a significant oil discovery in the outer Moray Firth on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) after drilling the Verbier sidetrack well.

Preliminary results indicate that the newly discovered resource can contain 25 million to 130 million barrels of oil.

Statoil Exploration Norway and the UK senior vice-president Jez Averty said: “This is an encouraging result for Statoil and the UK team.

“We have proven oil in good quality sands with good reservoir properties, but significant work remains, most likely including appraisal, to clarify the recoverable volumes and to refine this range.”

The Verbier main wellbore earlier encountered water-filled sand, with the partners then deciding to spud a sidetrack to assess the remaining potentiality.

Statoil Exploration UK vice-president Jenny Morris said: “The results show that we made the right decision to sidetrack the well and this discovery proves that there could be significant remaining potential in this mature basin.”

“This discovery proves that there could be significant remaining potential in this mature basin.”

The company operates Verbier with a 70% stake, while Jersey Oil and Gas and CIECO V&C (UK) own 18% and 12% stakes respectively.

Under the programme, Statoil also drilled two other prospects, Mariner Segment 9 and Jock Scott wells within the UKCS, which both yielded disappointing results.

Responding to Statoil’s announcement on oil discovery, Oil & Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “This is good news from Statoil and partners and we now really hope that the find proves to be commercially appealing and proceeds to development.

“It’s also another signal of confidence in the future of the UK Continental Shelf and the kind of development that should further persuade investors of the benefit of putting their money into this basin, which still holds billions of barrels of oil and gas.”

Image: The Transocean Spitsbergen drilling rig. Photo: courtesy of Kenneth Engelsvold.