The Norwegian Continental Shelf is one of the key regions that Statoil (NYSE:STO) is targeting in its oil and gas exploration program, and the company plans to drill as many as 80 wells here over the next three years.

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Barents Sea
Statoil is active in the Barents Sea and has reported several successful discoveries here over the last year. In April 2011, the company found both oil and natural gas pay at the Skrugard prospect. The company estimated that Skrugard may contain recoverable resources between 150 million and 250 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). In March 2012, Statoil drilled a successful appraisal well at Skrugard and confirmed the potential of this prospect in the Barents Sea.

Statoil followed up its success at Skrugard with the Havis discovery, also in the Barents Sea. The Havis discovery added an additional 200 million to 300 million BOE of recoverable resources bringing the potential of this area to between 400 million and 600 million BOE of resources.

Statoil is hoping to continue this exploration success with the drilling of four more prospects in the Barents Sea. The company plans to drill the Nunatak, Skavl and Iskrystall wells along with a fourth unidentified prospect by the middle of 2013. Eni (NYSE:E) is also involved here on a non-operated basis and owns 30% of the Skrugard and Havis prospects.

SEE: A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets

North Sea
Statoil and its partners have reported several successful wells in the last two years at the Avaldsnes and Aldous prospects in the North Sea. This series of discoveries has been renamed Johan Sverdrup and will be a major target of Statoil over the next three years. The company plans to drill four appraisal wells and one exploration well on two separate license areas to delineate this large discovery further. Statoil estimates that the Johan Sverdrup may contain between 1.7 billion and 3.3 billion BOE of gross recoverable resources.

SEE: What Determines Oil Prices?

Statoil has additional exploration planned for the Norwegian Continental Shelf and obtained eight more licenses in April 2011. The company plans to drill eight to 12 exploration wells in the North Sea through 2014.

Other operators active in the North Sea include Total (NYSE:TOT), which found natural gas at the Norvarg prospect. The company plans to drill an appraisal well here in 2013. Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) is the operator of several producing fields in the North Sea and is currently developing the Boyla field. The company expects first oil here in 2014.

SEE: Oil And Gas Industry Primer

The Bottom Line
Statoil has a large exploration program planned through 2014 and is targeting many areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The company hopes to generate long-term production growth from these and other prospects in its inventory.

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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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