The seismic surveys in the Russian part of the Barents Sea began in late 1960s. The process that was started consisted of 4 stages:
- until 1973: the first reconnaissance transsections were done in the southern part of Pechora sea shelf
- 1972 -1978: “Sevmorgeologia” conducted research on the entire southern side of the Barents Sea shelf, including Yuzhno-Barents (southern Barents) depression
- 1978-1990s. A number of large and unique deposits of oil, gas and gas condensate were located, primarily in the southern and central parts of the Barents Sea
- started in 1995. Focus on the northern parts of the Barents Sea shelf. The result was a completion of a regional stage of In 1979-1980, three specialised organisations were established in Murmansk – Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka (AMNGR) for exploration drilling and oil production, Sevmorneftegeofizika (SMNG) for seismic research, and Arctic Marine Engineering-Geological expedition (AMIGE) for complex geotechnical investigations.
SMNG completed over 400 000 km of seismic profiles 2D and 600 km2 - 3D, identified 178 structures and prepared 34 of them for exploration drilling. AMIGE bored 1600 geotechnical wells and static penetration of 52 000 metres in total.
Upon completion of seismic works in the Barents Sea, the density of seismic profiles of the shelf has become 0.31 km/km2. This density allowed to find 11 hydrocarbon fields, 4 - oil, 1 – oil/gas condensate, 3 – gas condensate, 3 – gas (Figure 2.5.10). To confirm the size of the deposits, AMNGR ran 160 000 metres of deep drilling and completed 51 exploratory wells.
Seismic data acquisition on the Norwegian shelf is divided into several categories: Seismic surveys performed by the authorities, commercial seismic and scientific data gathering. Ever since 1969 the Norwegian authorities have acquired seismic data in unopened areas in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea. The seismic survey that has been done does also include the area around Svalbard. Up until 2001, the purchases of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's seismic data sets in the Barents Sea South have been mandatory for companies that wish to acquire other data in the same areas. This requirement has been discontinued in accordance with Storting White Paper No. 39 (1999-2000).
In the period 2007-2009 the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate performed regional 2D and 3D seismic surveys in the area Nordland VII and a limited area in Troms II as a follow up to the integrated management plan.
There is a further differentiation between company-owned seismic, license-owned seismic and marketable seismic. What all these categories have in common is that an exploration permit must be obtained from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. This data is reported to the authorities in accordance with the provisions in Section 10.4 of the Petroleum Act.
The authorities have also issued scientific exploration licences. These licences grant the owner exclusive rights to publish the results.
Exploration and appraisal wells
There have been petroleum activities in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea since 1980, and the first discovery, 7120/8-1 Askeladd, was discovered the following year. This discovery is now a part of the Snøhvit development. 81 exploration wells have been drilled up to the end of 2008, and two main discoveries have been made, Snøhvit and Goliat.
Appraisal wells have been drilled in the Russian part of the Barents and Pechora seas since 1970s. 51 exploration wells have been completed by AMNGR, among them 33 – in the Barents Sea at sea.