Statoil's 2017 Exploration Drilling Plans Inspire Optimism

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Statoil ASASTO has increased its drilling plan for 2017 by about 30% compared with 2016.

The company intends to drill about 30 exploration wells in 2017, of which more than 50% will be drilled on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).

In 2016, Statoil, as operator and partner, finished a total of 23 exploration wells, of which 14 were on the NCS. The total exploration activity, comprising licensing, access and seismic data acquisitions, was accomplished well below the original estimate, owing to efficiency improvements and market effects.

In Norway, the 5-7 well exploration campaigns in the Barents Sea represent one of the main parts of the activity plan. In the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea, the goal is to prove near field volumes to extend the productive lifetime of existing infrastructure and decide the growth potential.

Overall, Statoil anticipates 16-18 NCS exploration wells to be concluded in 2017. The decline on the NCS can only be neutralized by new discoveries.

Internationally, Statoil's 2017 exploration drilling activity will include growth opportunities in basins where the company is already established with discoveries and producing fields, as well as new frontier opportunities.

Elsewhere, Statoil intends to spud partner operated wells in established basins like the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and in new frontier areas like Indonesia and Suriname. It is also partnering in onshore exploration drilling planned in Russia and Turkey.

Statoil's positivity is reflected in its price chart, which has increased 42.1%, over the last one year. The Zacks categorized Oil & Gas-International Integrated industry has gained 24.7%, in the same time span.

Statoil's 2017 exploration drilling plan will allow the company to reinstate its long-term commitment to the NCS, alongside positioning it for global opportunities. The company is likely to have exploration drilling activity in 11 countries on five continents if everything moves according to plan.

Statoil currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked players in the same space include Braskem S.A. BAK , Suncor Energy, Inc. SU and Noble Midstream Partners L.P. NBLX . All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here .

Braskem posted a positive earnings surprise of 107.79% in the last reported quarter.

Suncor Energy posted a positive earnings surprise of 300.00% in the preceding quarter. It reported an average earnings surprise of 40.55% for the four trailing quarters.

Noble Midstream Partners posted a negative earnings surprise of 77.78% in the last reported quarter.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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