Statoil ASA (NYSE:STO) was the first to initiate the project of joint seismic data acquisition in the Barents Sea on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. In December 2013, the project was joined by 17 companies willing to contribute their seismic expertise in the project. Recently, 16 new companies have joined the project to split the data acquisition costs.

Source: Statoil
Source: Statoil

Benefits of joint data acquisition

Seismic data collection is an expensive business and sharing the costs is beneficial for all participants. Furthermore, the pooling of efforts means that the professional expertise of all participating companies can complement each other and result in high quality data collection.

“Coordinated seismic acquisition… will ensure very good data quality, since the industry to a much greater extent will be able to utilize the companies’ collective professional expertise within geological understanding and seismic acquisition and processing. The initiative lays the foundation for fewer, well-planned operations, thus reducing acquisition costs and potential disadvantages for the fishing industry,” says the senior vice president for exploration on the Norwegian Continental Shelf for Statoil.

Statoil took on the operator role for the acquisition

The project was initiated due to a request from the Norwegian Petroleum Ministry. “At the request of the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (OED), the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association launched an initiative for a joint project relating to acquiring 3D seismic data from blocks in this area. Statoil took on the operator role for the acquisition,” explained Statoil ASA (NYSE:STO) in a recent statement.

The primary reason for this was the damage that extensive seismic activity causes to the fishery industry. Hence, in all surveys, a fishery expert is required by law to be on board any seismic acquisition party. The pooling of resources to conduct one extended survey instead of a number of small surveys means less damage to fisheries.

Table 1: Participants of joint collaboration project

Source: Statoil
Source: Statoil

Execution of the plan

With the 23rd bidding round for public consultation, new companies entered the collaboration. The southeastern Barents Sea is part of the 23rd licensing round. The joint seismic acquisition group plans to start the data acquisition project in April of the current year and conclude by the fall season.

The Barents Sea is the first new area to be opened for exploration activity since 1994. Newfound interest has been witnessed in the area, especially since the discoveries by Statoil ASA (NYSE:STO) in Johan Castberg area. With the maturity of fields and sequential decline in North Sea output, Barents Sea offers companies in the area hope for the future.