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Aker BP makes North Sea oil find, feeding dispute with Equinor

Highlights

Aker BP in dispute with Equinor over NOAKA area

Raises area resource estimate to 700 million boe

London — Norwegian-UK joint venture Aker BP said Friday it had made an oil discovery of 80 million-200 million barrels in what it calls the NOAKA area of the North Sea, likely fuelling a dispute with Norwegian state-controlled Equinor over how to develop the area.

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Aker BP's senior vice president for exploration, Evy Glorstad-Clark, described the Liatarnet well discovery as an "encouraging result of a long-term strategy to unlock the exploration potential in the NOAKA area and provide the basis for an area development."

Further data would be acquired to determine the "drainage strategy and recovery factor," the company said.

Aker BP on Friday raised its estimate to 700 million barrels of oil equivalent for the NOAKA area -- short for North of Alvheim Krafla Askja -- having previously given an estimate of 550 million boe.

It holds controlling stakes in several discoveries in the area, but 50:50 ownership with Equinor in the two biggest fields, Askja and Krafla, which account for 236 million boe and are operated by Equinor.

Aker BP envisages the area becoming a stand-alone production hub, possibly powered by an offshore wind farm, while Equinor proposes developing only some of the fields, using unstaffed facilities, probably tied to the Oseberg hub.

"Discussions are still ongoing between the partners on how to develop the NOAKA area," Aker BP said. "Aker BP's ambition is to include Liatarnet in the resource base for an area development."

Aker BP said it holds a 90.26% stake in the license that contains the latest find, with Poland's Lotos holding the remainder.

Aker BP was created in 2016 from BP combining its Norwegian assets with those of Aker subsidiary Det norske. It has been focused mainly on mature oil fields, together with the Ivar Aasen field, which came on stream in 2016 and produced around 70,000 boe/d in the fourth quarter 2018. It holds a 12% stake in the Equinor-operated Johan Sverdrup field, due on stream in November.

The company's second-quarter oil and gas production dropped 19% on the year in the second quarter to 127,000 boe/d, it reported Friday. It attributed the drop mainly to planned maintenance, although it also had an issue with "riser" equipment needed to support production at the Alvheim field. It kept in place its full-year production guidance of 155,000-160,000 boe/d.

-- Nick Coleman, nick.coleman@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Burgess, newsdesk@spglobal.com