Statoil aims for operator status

Drilling wraps up at Suncor-led Ballicatters exploration prospect

Moira Baird
Published on April 15, 2011
Bill Maloney, North America's first executive vice-president of international energy company, Statoil, speaks during an information session at The St. John's Convention Centre Thursday.
Karla Kenny/Special to The Telegram

Statoil Canada’s executive vice-president for North America will have his fingers crossed for the company’s next well in the Flemish Pass starting this summer.

It was the site of Statoil’s offshore discovery two years ago known as Mizzen — and could be another step toward the company ’s goal of becoming an oilfield operator off Newfoundland.

Bill Maloney may also have his fingers crossed for the second Ballicatters exploration well on the Grand Banks, where drilling led by partner Suncor Energy has wrapped up.

“We just finished, with Suncor, the Ballicatters well,” Maloney told offshore service and supply companies in St. John’s Thursday.

“We are going to take over the Henry Goodrich and drill two further wells with Statoil as the operator.”

Maloney was in town for a one-day session with local offshore companies interested in bidding opportunities for Statoil operations around the world.

Growing business

Maloney said the Norwegian company aims to grow its business all over North America, including this province.

“One of the reasons we’re here is that we believe that we can make a valuable contribution to get even more production, bring more fields online here in Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.

“This is a place we want to grow.”

Maloney said the company will continue to manage its partnerships in Hibernia and Terra Nova, and support development of the Hebron and Hibernia South projects.

“But the real ambition is for us to be a development and production operator — and for that we need exploration success.

“I’m quite hopeful that we will be able to do something here and then benefit not only ourselves … but everybody associated with the industry here.”

Maloney has been the head of Statoil’s Houston-based development and production North America unit since Jan. 1.

Ballicatters prospect

Statoil is a 50-50 partner with Suncor in the Ballicatters prospect.

The two-year-old exploration licence spans about 20,000 square kilometres of seabed located northeast of the Hibernia oilfield.

It was Suncor’s second well at Ballicatters.

“That part of the program has completed, but I can’t really say anything more about the well because it’s all confidential,” said John Downton, spokesman for Suncor.

Ballicatters has been designated a “tight hole” — meaning drilling results can remain confidential for up to two years under offshore rules.

Downton said the drill rig Henry Goodrich will remain at Ballicatters until later this month.

Then, it moves to the Terra Nova oilfield to drill a development well.

“We expect to have it until sometime in July,” said Downton.

Statoil exploration

Statoil will then use the rig to drill a pair of wells — a second Mizzen well and an exploration well at a prospect dubbed Fiddlehead in the oil-producing Jeanne d’Arc Basin.

 Fiddlehead is south of the Terra Nova oilfield.

“There is no better way to build up an oil and gas exploration company than by successful exploration. It is the best way to grow our company,” said Maloney.

“Statoil puts a huge emphasis on exploration. We’re going to spend $3 billion on exploration this year globally.”

Statoil is active in the Alberta oilsands, along with the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and the Marcellus shale gas play in the U.S.

“The next big thing for our company is North America. We have invested well over $15 billion so far in North America — both here in Canada as well as the U.S.”

The company also operates in cold-water, harsh environments off Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Russia and off the northern coast of Norway.

“We like Arctic-type exploration,” said Maloney.