Does the silver bullet exist? Professor Martin Landrø will make sure that there will be a lively discussion about the exploration tool-box - in between the talks during the seminar, as well as after the talks. Foto: Halfdan Carstens

Does the silver bullet exist?

Another dry well has been completed. This time on the Utsira High (25/11-28). Why is it so difficult to find commercial volumes oil and gas?

A silver bullet woud certainly do the trick. However, there are good reasons to believe that it does not exist.
Both the Jurassic (Gasol) and the Permian (Gretel) prospects on the recent well on the Utsira High were dry. The Permian prospect also lacked reservoir. In other words: Another dry well. The exploration success on the Norwegian continental shelf has been quite disappointing this year. Not one decent discovery has been made.

Les også Rystad Energys vurderinger fra tidligere i sommer: “Få og små funn gir svar vekst“.

The best news so far appears to be the two appraisal wells on Alta that found both oil and gas.
We now ask the question if we lack the necessary geophysical tools to derisk the prospects (or do we lack good geologists to define good prospects?), and in the forthcoming Hydrocarbon Habitat seminars – in Oslo and Stavanger – professor Martin Landrø (NTNU) will take charge and make sure we will have a vivid discussion about this.
With Hans Chr. Rønnevik as one of the speakers it is fair to assume that the discussion will also center around how geologists and geophysicists organize their work, while. Per Avseth will make sure we do not forget about AVO.
Oslo October 22
Stavanger October 28


  • comment-avatar
    Karsten Eig 5 år ago

    I think the answer is as much about psychology as geoscience. Explorationists are treasure hunters, notorious optimists, and may be we have to be, looking for oil needles in the geological haystack. But, that can lead us to believe the treasure has to be there somewhere, must there, because they…we…invest prestige, money, pet ideas in wanting it to be there – and interpret G&G accordingly.
    Case in point, the Barents Sea: We know that most of the Norwegian Barents Sea has (very simplified) experienced severe uplift and leak. Nevertheless, we continue to explore it. Slowly, we have recognised that the Jurassic is risky, and partly ventured into deeper targets, drilling a long series of minor (mainly gas) discoveries in Triassic channels with Meh! reservoir. Each time I read about a well targeting such prospects, I am tempted to ask «do you have a big desire to make another technical mini discovery»?
    What then, about Castberg, Gotha, Alta, Goliat, Snøhvit, Wisting? Don’t they prove that exploration in the Barents Sea is worthwhile? A pessimist might say they are lucky exceptions that prove the general rule, but that would overlook a crucial point: That explorationists also have learned from the mistakes, and used the aggregated, evolving knowledge to home into new ideas.
    We thus need a balance between optimism and realism: Stop the talk about «finding the key to the Barents Sea», as if there is a hidden secret somewhere that will magically unlock vast amounts of oil. Large parts of the Barents Sea has leaked and Triassic channels have bad reservoir and there is nothing to do about that. But, with good G&G work, there may be unveiled more exceptions to the rule, areas like the Gotha-Alta-Castberg trend where oil (at least for us not part of those licenses) seems to continue to migrate in from the W; Wisting which (my opinion) received charge from the Maud basin post-uplift, or proximal Triassic channels with better reservoirs (
    Geophysical wizardry can never be a silver bullet. But it can be a good tool. E.g., in cases where there are uncertainties if oil migrated into the trap, EM may help. Case in point: Heilo was one of the Barents’ few total dusters, and post-well, it can easily be explained as being in a migration shadow. Pre-well, migration risk was sensitive to interpretation and depth conversion, and the negative EM could have helped to answer that question. The same may be case for migration from Maud into the Wisting satellites.

  • comment-avatar
    Gideon Giwa 5 år ago

    Thanks Karsten for a very insightful response. I agree that we should stop looking for a silver bullet and start seeking overall understanding of the geology and petroleum systems in particular. I think that geophysics’ role as a tool is being over emphasized (a biased sedimentologist here) but I am of the opinion that the biggest culprit is decision making. Decision making from governments, companies and funnily enough…investors. This business is tough. The reward system invariably drives the behaviors which helps drive decision making. For example, if companies reward quick decisions to drill (due to investors demand for CAPEX % spend at year end) not necessarily time and effort to unravel the G&G, then immature prospects are likely to be ahead on the drilling plan. Explorers are motivated for quick year-end target to deliver leads and prospects that should be more thoroughly investigated and the cycles repeats itself.
    I believe that knowledge, cross function collaboration and innovation presents an opportunity to improve and “Norway Inc” is a great example of that. The 2012/2013 (?) big seismic group shoot represents an opportunity that other countries will do well to imitate – saves cost, shares risk, foster cross-company working and knowledge sharing. Wouldn’t it be great if that concept can be applied to regional geological evaluation while retaining critical company secrets? I am convinced that when government regulators drive such change, overall the total cost will be reduced and success rates improved bearing in mind “Norway Inc” pay 78% of it anyway.
    Another example of collaboration is the well organised 2012 FOCUS group workshop on the Johan Svedrup cores at the NPD facility in Oslo. I really enjoyed working the floor and viewing those cores – though a few more days would have been appreciated. More countries need to imitate that. An improvement will be having petroleum engineers from other disciplines in the room.
    Lastly innovation. Geology needs to catch up with geophysics in improving the technology available to explorers to help reduce the number of dry holes. At Rocksolve, we are definitely working on it.
    In summary, the industry need to work on how much time, effort and expertise it expends and deploy and data it acquires to aid the search for deeper understanding and knowledge of the basins while balancing investor’s needs. Collaborations across companies, disciplines and basins will yield better results and lastly innovation, new technologies will surely help. I intend to contributes in a big way to reducing the number of dry holes drilled and am developing concepts to achieve this…

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