Norwegian oil company Statoil has obtained a drilling permit for appraisal well 16/2-14 from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) in production licence 265 in the central North Sea.

"Statoil will use the Ocean Vanguard drilling facility to drill the well, after it has completed plugging the Geitungen discovery well."

The licence area constitutes part of Block 16/2 and is located in the vicinity of the giant Johan Sverdrup discovery, one of the five largest discoveries ever made on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Statoil will use the Ocean Vanguard drilling facility to drill the well, after it has completed plugging the Geitungen discovery well a few kilometres to the north-west, with drilling expected to start this week.

Geitungen, with estimated volumes of between 140 million and 270 million barrels, is set to boost the resource base for an integrated development of Sverdrup.

Statoil will use the Ocean Vanguard drilling facility at position 58°50’25.97" north and 2°31’02.14" east, after completing the drilling of appraisal well 16/2-12 in the same licence.

Operator Statoil owns a 40% stake in production licence 265, while Petoro owns a 30% interest, Det norske oljeselskap and Lundin Norway hold 20% and ten percent interest respectively.

The licence was awarded on 24 April 2001 and appraisal well 16/2-14 is the eighth well to be drilled in the licence area.

Statoil has already encountered a 35m oil column in exploration well 16/2-12, which it expects would enable the company to tie up the well with other discoveries in the area.

The average oil recovery rate for Statoil-operated fields in Norway rose from 49% to 50% this year, constituting 327 million barrels of oil.