After a number of years without new exploration wells, companies now show interest in exploration and drilling in the Danish part of the North Sea again. The latest exploration well in Denmark was Xana-1, completed in 2015 by the operator Maersk Oil.
In recent years the oil and gas sector in Denmark has been characterised by a number of take-overs and mergers among operators and partners in the licences and restructuring within the companies. This has had a significant impact on the companies' focus on starting new projects. At the same time, fluctuation in oil price has created an uncertain market.
In the other North Sea countries - Norway, the UK and the Netherlands - there is also an increased exploration activity in recent years after a period of decline. This new activity has contributed with new knowledge and resulted in discoveries. The importance of these findings is significant. Discoveries increase the likelihood of commercial reserves coming into production, and that existing infrastructure can be maintained for a number of years ahead. At the same time, increased activity and success can lead to a continued search for new reserves, which can contribute to the security of supply in Denmark and generate income for the Treasury.
In the Danish area, new regional seismic data has been acquired in the years since the last exploration well in 2015. Together with reprocessing of older seismic surveys an improved basis for future activities is achieved.
Several wells planned for 2019-2020
In September 2019, HESS Denmark plans to drill the exploration well, Jill-1, in licence 6/16 in the western part of the Danish area. The licence was awarded in the 7th Licensing Round. EIA screening for the area and geophysical and geotechnical site surveys, on the drilling site have been carried out. The licence partners has contracted the drilling rig Maersk Resilient for the project. The well is planned to a depth of approx. 3,400 meters and is expected to reach total depth in approx. 35 days. The result from the well will be decisive for further work and new wells in the area. HESS is the operator in the licence with a share of 80% and Nordsøfonden partner with a share of 20%.
After the merger of the companies, the new constellation Wintershall Dea as operator in licence 9/16 is in the process of planning and designing the exploration well Vibe-1. The licence is located in the eastern part of the Central Graben area, and was awarded to DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG in the 7th Licensing Round. Drilling begins in spring 2020 and the well is planned as an HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) well to a depth of approx. 4,300 meters. The target is to prove the presence of oil-bearing sandstone of the Upper Jurassic age. Wintershall Dea has a 50% share in the licence, while the partners ONE-Dyas and Nordsøfonden has shares of 30% and 20% respectively.
The DUC has committed to a firm well to Upper Miocene layers in the Contiguous Area. Planning and design of the well is initiated and the well is expected to be drilled in 2020 or 2021. Total is the operator in the licence with a share of 43.2%, Shell with 36.8% and Nordsøfonden with 20%.
In addition, Wintershall Noordzee with Nordsøfonden as partner, is working on a plan to proceed with exploration and appraisal studies in licence 5/06 outside the Ravn field area. Decision for further drilling activities is expected in 2019. In licence 12/06, in the southern part of the Danish sector, more wells in the two discoveries Broder Tuck and Lille John are under evaluation for the Robin Hood development.