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Statoil Launches New Rig In Attempt To Boost Output, Cut Costs

04/17/2012 | 12:34pm US/Eastern
   By Katarina Gustafsson 

Statoil ASA (STO) Tuesday announced it has launched a new type of oil rig, as the Norwegian petroleum giant aims to boost the recovery rates from subsea wells.

Statoil has made some major discoveries of late, yet the Scandinavian nation's oil output has been declining and has dropped by 1.3 million barrels per day since its peak in 2001.

Statoil--the largest player on the Norwegian continental shelf-- last year increased the average oil recovery rate from its fields to 50% from 49%. A Statoil executive declined to estimate in percentage terms how much additional petroleum could be recovered with the new rig, which is expected to come into force in 2015.

"We think we can take out at least 180 million extra barrels when we use this rig," Margareth Ovrum, head of technology, projects and drilling at Statoil told Dow Jones Newswires.

The new rig is specifically made for subsea installations where the recovery rate is significantly lower than for wells from fixed installations. Statoil operates around 500 subsea wells and the company has been looking at a way to increase recovery from these since around the turn of the millennium, Ovrum said, adding that the rig is the only one of its kind in the world.

Statoil said the category-B rig fills the gap between light intervention vessels and conventional rigs as it is specially designed to carry out well intervention and drilling operations in existing subsea wells.

Statoil estimates that the new rig--which the company has developed together with Norwegian oil services supplier Aker Solutions ASA (AKSO.OS) from which it is hiring the rig--will reduce operating costs for well interventions by as much as 40%. Aker's contract of eight years, with options for three further two-year periods, will provide Aker with at least $1.9 billion.

"I think there will be more rigs like this going forward, if this works out well," Ovrum said.

-By Katarina Gustafsson, Dow Jones Newswires +46-8-5451-3097;

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