Norway could be back amongst the leading oil producers thanks to a major find by Statoil.
Statoil drilling rig Image: Helge Hansen/Statoil
The Scandinavian country is still the world's fifth largest oil and second largest gas exporter, but oil finds and output have been steadily falling since 2001. Those fortunes are likely to change as a result of the latest discovery in the Northern Arctic.
Statoil declared the Skrugard find, in the Barents Sea, at 150-250 million barrels of oil equivalent. However, the field is believed to be larger than initially thought and could yield as much as 500m barrels before running dry.
The company described the find as "fantastic" and stated that it could be the start of a boom in exploration in the area despite concerns amongst Arctic conservation organisations in the wake of the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Skrugard licence is shared between Statoil, Norwegian state-owned Petoro and Italian firm Eni.
The Barents Sea has previously only provided two fields - Snoehvit gas licenced by Statoil and Goliat oil owned by Eni. The new find boosts the Norwegian governments gloomy estimates at the beginning of the year of just 16.4bn boe, a 21% downgrade on previous figures.