Statoil has secured approval from the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway to use the Transocean Spitsbergen semi-submersible drilling rig in the Barents Sea.

The Aker H-6e type rig will be used to drill the 7319/12-1 Pingvin well in production licence 713. The well is located around 296km from Hammerfest in water depths of about 422m.

Drilling is likely to commence this month, with a duration of 28 days to complete, depending on whether a discovery follows.

Statoil is restricted from drilling into any oil-bearing layer in the well before 5 September.

The authority said this condition has been set to allow for appeals before the riskiest part of the operation begins.

"Statoil is restricted from drilling into any oil-bearing layer in the well before 5 September."

In May, several Greenpeace activists took part in a protest against Statoil’s drilling plans in the Arctic waters by boarding the Transocean Spitsbergen rig in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea.

Statoil, which has participated in more than 100 wells in the Barents Sea, has been accused of putting Bear Island at risk.

The Norwegian Government has decided not to allow oil operations near the ice edge, after facing the difficulties of cleaning up oil in the ice.

A study by the Polar Institute has found that the ice edge can appear as short as 25km from Statoil’s proposed drill site.

Norway is said to be the second largest supplier of natural gas to Europe. About three-quarters of the oil produced in the country is exported to European nations.

Defence Technology