CNOOC in Iceland: 2D measurements to start next year

Representatives from Chinese oil major CNOOC 中海油 met yesterday with their Jan Mayen license partners, Eykon Energy from Iceland and Petoro, owned by the Norwegian state. Talking to Icelandic TV station Stöð 2, Gunnlaugur Jónsson from Eykon described plans to begin two-dimensional data acquisition by next summer, then three-dimensional measurements two years after that. Drilling platforms could be seen in the area between 2019 and 2021, he added.

Everyone at the meeting was smiling broadly, despite the fact that falling oil prices have been making Arctic oil exploration projects less attractive. Asked about that, Gunnlaugur said he didn’t perceive a diminished enthusiasm.

My blog hosts a long-ish background article about CNOOC and their activities in Iceland. Occasional updates about the Jan Mayen (Drekasvæði) project pop up in it from time to time.

Icelandic environmentalists against Jan Mayen oil

It’s not time for Iceland to “bet on oil”, as they seem to be doing after granting three oil licenses for the Drekasvæði (Icelandic Jan Mayen area), where “there are few indications” that production will be profitable, says Árni Finnsson of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association (Náttúruverndarsamtök Íslands) to AFP. Árni’s and other local environmental organisations had shown their opposition to Jan Mayen exploration earlier, for example with a demonstration just after Chinese major CNOOC got the third of the licenses some six weeks ago.

Eykon Energy, CNOOC’s local partner in the Jan Mayen license, would surely differ with Árni’s assessment of the prospects for oil exploration in the area. They’ve been talking about reserves of up to 1bn barrels of oil equivalent, some twenty times what the Norwegian petroleum directorate estimates is to be found down there.

billions and billions of barrels for CNOOC in Iceland

Some rather remarkable estimates about the potential hydrocarbon reserves in the Icelandic Jan Mayen area (Drekasvæði), coming from Eykon Energy, a partner of China’s CNOOC in the largest licensed sector there, have been making the rounds on Norwegian, Icelandic, Danish, Faroese and English-language media.

An area straddling the border between Icelandic and Norwegian waters might contain, according to Eykon chairman Heiðar Már Guðjónsson, reserves of up to 1bn boe. The area, which people with the company have named Bergþóra after a Njáls saga character, doesn’t look particularly close to the sector licensed to Eykon and CNOOC and such numbers would be good news for the neighbouring licensees, among them Ithaca Energy and, through Faroe Petroleum, Korea’s national oil company. Heiðar Már’s numbers for Bergþóra alone are twice as much as what the Norwegian petroleum directorate (NPD) used to estimate for the whole Jan Mayen area.

That’s nothing compared to the 10bn barrels Heyðar Már mentioned to Dagbladet when talking about the whole area, which, converted to money, would be enough to pay off Iceland’s creditors and surely buy a lot of nice things. Some have expressed skepticism about an estimate that’s a healthy 1900% above the NPD’s, but still lags behind the 20bn that Eykon’s own Terje Hagevang projected back in 2008.

I often write about Jan Mayen oil.

CNOOC gets Jan Mayen license in the end

Chinese oil major CNOOC has finally got an E&P license (expected already last October) in the Dreki area, the Icelandic sector of the waters south of the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen. CNOOC, through an Icelandic subsidiary, is to be the operator of the license, and to control a 60% share of it. They’re partnering with Norway’s state-owned Petoro AS, with a 25% share, and Eykon Energy, a local company.

I wrote about Dreki oil in some length in September (today’s announcement was ‘imminent’ back then), and more briefly in some recent updates.

Dreki environment better off with Norway than without: Tord Lien

Norwegian energy and oil minister Tord Lien responded to criticism regarding Norway’s decision to partner with Chinese state-owned CNOOC to explore for oil in the Icelandic sector of the Jan Mayen area (Drekisvæði for the Icelanders), while suspending drilling on the Norwegian sector, dubbed a case of “double standards” by Greenpeace: “If they have more confidence in the Chinese state-owned company than in the Norwegian state-owned company when it comes to environmental issues, then I think that’s a bit surprising.” Norway’s participation won’t lead to any “more or less oil activity” off Iceland, said Lien, while from an environmental point of view it’s a good thing to have Norway’s Petoro work together with the Chinese operator, and it makes economic sense to have access to information to be gathered from exploration activities, the first ever in the high-potential Jan Mayen area, at a “relatively marginal cost” ($4m last time I checked). All of the above from Aftenbladet. More about CNOOC in Iceland in my article and subsequent posts on the topic.

Iceland oil license coming CNOOC’s way

Iceland’s National Energy Authority (NEA) is done processing the application for an E&P license in the Dreki Area presented by Chinese state-owned oil giant CNOOC and Eykon Energy, an Icelandic company established last year. The Dreki Area is the Icelandic half of the region that surrounds the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, and a 1981 treaty gives each country the right to a 25% share in any oil drilling licenses awarded in the other’s sector. The Norwegians did take up a stake in the two licenses awarded so far by Iceland, but it’s less clear if they would do so this time, just after the new government there has suspended exploration plans in the Norwegian sector. Norway has now a month to decide if they want a share. By mid November, CNOOC will then be the biggest oil company with an interest in Icelandic oil. The other two are Ithaca Energy and Faroe Petroleum, 23% of which is (for the time being) owned by Korean major KNOC. I’ve written about this topic in some length.

CNOOC to get Dreki license by year’s end: NYT

Posted on Tumblr on Oct 2.

The NYT quotes Þórarinn Arnarson from the Icelandic National Energy Authority (NEA) as expecting CNOOC and Eykon Energy’s application to drill in the Dreki area to be approved “by the end of the year”. Not two months ago, Vísir‘s sources thought it likely for the approval to come in October. The Dreki area is under continental waters between Iceland and the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen. I’ve written about the project, a first for both Iceland and CNOOC.