Statoil, Rosneft Arctic Well Off Norway Held Up by Greenpeace

Statoil ASA’s first well off Norway with OAO Rosneft, the Russian state-run oil company targeted by international sanctions, may be delayed following a Greenpeace complaint.

Drilling can’t start on the Statoil-operated Pingvin prospect in the Barents Sea until the appeal has been handled this week by the Norwegian Environment Agency, Reidar Evensen, a spokesman for the agency, said in an e-mail. Greenpeace argued the arctic well is an oil-spill hazard.

“The field is too close to vulnerable resources such as Bear Island and the ice edge,” Truls Gulowsen, the head of Greenpeace’s Norwegian unit, said in an e-mailed copy of the complaint.

It’s unclear whether Greenpeace’s complaint can cause delays to the Pingvin well, Statoil spokesman Oerjan Heradstveit said by phone today. Rosneft’s press service declined to comment.

The appeal is the fifth filed by Greenpeace against state-controlled Statoil’s drilling in the Barents Sea this year, which the environmental group says is too close to the Bear Island nature reserve and the polar ice cap. The group occupied a rig in May for two days as it was heading to drill Norway’s northernmost well in the Hoop area.

The latest complaint comes as Rosneft, which owns a 20 percent stake in license 713 where Pingvin is located, faces sanctions due to Russia’s involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Those measures are affecting the timing of some of Statoil’s projects with Rosneft in Russia, which involve onshore and offshore exploration, the Norwegian company said last month.

Planned Drilling

“The top hole has been drilled,” Heradstveit said. “Greenpeace’s complaint needs to be handled before we can drill the deeper layers.”

Drilling is planned to start by mid-September at the earliest, the Norwegian Environment Agency said.

Statoil is operator of license 713 with a 40 percent stake, while Rosneft, North Energy ASA and Edison International each own 20 percent.

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