Norwegian oil firm Statoil has made a second big oil discovery in the Barents Sea in less than a year and predicted more discoveries to come in the region, further boosting the remote Arctic region's oil prospects.
The discovery will also improve the oil prospects of Norway, the world's eighth-largest oil exporter and the second-largest for gas, which has seen declining oil output since 2001, following a string of offshore discoveries made over the past year.
The new oil find, called Havis, could hold between 200 million and 300 million barrels of oil equivalent. Together with the previous and nearby discovery in the region, called Skrugard, it could provide between 400 million and 600 million boe, Statoil said on Monday.
"This is extremely positive," said John Olaisen, an analyst at Oslo-based firm Carnegie. "This is an important strategic asset in a new oil region, so this is very good ... One could expect more oil finds in the region after this."
Finding oil in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea had until recently proven to be very difficult.
Over the past 30 years oil companies have drilled 92 exploration wells but only a handful have proven to be hits -- Skrugard, Statoil's Snoehvit gas field, Eni's Goliat oilfield and Total's Norvarg discovery.
The analyst said the new oil find could be worth between one and two crowns per Statoil share and that Havis could be even bigger than the oil firm said it was, based on the quality of the oil and gas column found while drilling.
"This discovery will help Statoil achieve their 2020 production targets," added Olaisen. Statoil wants to up its total oil and gas output by a third to 2.5 million barrels per day by 2020 compared with its 2010 level.
Statoil expected to strike more black gold in the region around Havis, its chief executive told Reuters.