STATOIL has discovered gas in a wildcat well drilled northwest of its Johan Castberg oil and gas discovery in the Barents Sea.

Well 7319/12-1 was drilled by the Transocean Spitsbergen drilling facility on production licence 713, 65 kilometres northwest of the 7220/8-1 Johan Castberg oil and gas discovery in the Barents Sea and 300 kilometres northwest of Hammerfest.

Aiming to prove petroleum in late Cretaceous reservoir rocks, the well found gas in reservoir rocks from either the early Palaeocene or late Cretaceous Age with good reservoir quality.

The well was drilled to a vertical depth of 1,500 metres below the sea surface in Cretaceous rocks. Water depth at the site is 422 metres.

The entire reservoir, including the water zone, is about 30 metres, and the gas column is about 15 metres.

Preliminary estimates place the size of the discovery at between 5 billion and 20 billion standard cubic metres of recoverable gas, though Statoil said the discovery would be subject to further evaluation.

The well was not formation-tested, but extensive data collection and sampling have been carried out. The well has since been permanently plugged and abandoned.

The Transocean Spitsbergen drilling facility will now drill wildcat well 7220/2-1 in production licence 714 in the Barents Sea, where Statoil is the operator.