Statoil (NYSE:STO) has plans for an active North American offshore exploration program in Canada and Alaska in 2012, as the company looks to set up future opportunities to grow production later in the decade.

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Canada
Statoil is active off the Eastern Coast of Canada and plans to drill one appraisal well and between three and five exploration wells here from 2012 to 2014. The company is focused on the Grand Banks area and is building a position in the Flemish Pass Basin where the company recently received two exploration licenses.

SEE: What Determines Oil Prices?

Statoil reported a successful exploration well at the Mizzen prospect in 2009, and recently drilled an appraisal well here. The company plans to drill two other high impact wells in this area in 2012 and 2013, starting with the Harpoon prospect.

One large project in the Canadian Atlantic area is the Sable Offshore Energy Project, which produces natural gas from numerous offshore fields. The project is co-owned by Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A, RDS-B) and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM)

Alaska
Statoil is exploring in the Chukchi Sea, a shallow water area off the northern coast of Alaska. The company has 16 operated licenses and is active on a non-operated basis with Conoco Phillips (NYSE:COP) on 50 licenses.

Statoil is working on the Amundsen well, an operated prospect in the Chukchi Sea, and is expected to make a final decision on this development. If approved, the company plans to drill the Amundsen well in 2014.

On a non-operated basis, Statoil is involved with Conoco Phillips on the Devils Paw prospect and has a 25% interest in this exploration well. The company expects this well to be drilled in 2014.

SEE: Oil And Gas Industry Primer

Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD) is also active in Alaska and operates the Oooguruk field in the Beaufort Sea. Oooguruk started up production in 2003 and the company recently drilled a successful well into the Torok formation at the field. Pioneer Natural Resources estimates that the development of this play may increase the resource potential of Oooguruk by 50 million barrels of oil.

Royal Dutch Shell is also exploring and developing offshore Alaska and plans to drill in the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea. The company spent $100 million to modify a drilling rig to handle the harsh weather conditions in the Arctic.

SEE: A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets

The Bottom Line
Statoil is scouring the globe for future oil and gas opportunities in an effort to set up long-term production growth. The company is bullish on offshore Alaska and Eastern Canada, and has assembled a large inventory of prospects to exploit through 2014.

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At the time of writing, Eric Fox did not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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