The exploration activities in the Barents Sea started as far back as 1907 with the first geological expedition to the Spitsbergen archipelago. Exploration for oil and gas started with the Kvadhuken well in 1961, followed by several other wells. Fina Exploration drilled two wells on the Island of Hopen in 1973. The NPD acquired the first seismic data in 1969. The universities collected seismic profiles from 1969 as part of the Continental Shelf Project.
The first licences in the Barents Sea were awarded in the 5th concession round in Norway in 1980. The results so far (2016) are two fields in production, Snøhvit and Goliat, and several in the evaluation phase.
The main exploration challenges in the Barents Sea are the Tertiary uplift and erosion of Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks, and the maturation of the source rocks due to the uplift. The discoveries Gotha and Alta in 2013–15 proved the Permian carbonate play. The awards in the 23rd concession round opened the Barents SE area bordering Russia. One well was drilled in 2017 with encouraging results and two more will be drilled in 2018.
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The history of the European oil and gas industry reflects local as well as global political events, economic constraints and the personal endeavours of individual petroleum geoscientists as much as it does the development of technologies and the underlying geology of the region. The first commercial oil wells in Europe were drilled in Poland in 1853, Romania in 1857, Germany in 1859 and Italy in 1860. The 23 papers in this volume focus on the history and heritage of the oil and gas industry in the key European oil-producing countries from the earliest onshore drilling to its development into the modern industry that we know today. The contributors chronicle the main events and some of the major players that shaped the industry in Europe. The volume also marks several important anniversaries, including 150 years of oil exploration in Poland and Romania, the centenary of the drilling of the first oil well in the UK and 50 years of oil production from onshore Spain.