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Norwegian major Statoil ASA (STO - Analyst Report) has commenced the drilling of an exploration well at the Nanna prospect in the North Sea off Norway.

The exploration well – 25/11-26 – is being spud by Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc.’s (DO - Analyst Report) semi-submersible Ocean Vanguard. The probe lies in production license (PL) 169 and is being drilled in a water depth of about 130 meters.

The drilling of wildcat is estimated to take about 32 days with an intention to touch a total depth of 2,222 meters. Another 20 days would be required for further appraisal of a prospective find in the PL 169.

Statoil, the operator of PL 169, has a 57% interest in the license, while partners Petoro and ExxonMobil Corporation (XOM - Analyst Report) hold 30% and 13% interests, respectively.

Statoil has operations in all major hydrocarbon-producing regions of the world, with an emphasis on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). We believe the company’s growing upstream presence in the emerging basins of the Caspian Sea, West Africa and the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico will enable Statoil to sustain its production growth for the next few years.

In early January, Statoil achieved drilling success in its latest appraisal on the Johan Sverdrup find, off Norway. The appraisal confirmed oil presence in the southern part of the find, giving a boost to the resource availability in the area.

In 2013, Statoil, along with its project partners – OMV and ConocoPhillips (COP - Analyst Report) are also planning to advance on the development of Aasta Hansteen – a field in the Norwegian Sea. These projects show the importance of NCS in Statoil’s portfolio.

Currently Statoil carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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