OSLO/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BASF (BASFn.DE) unit Wintershall said on Monday it has found oil about 17 kilometres southwest of the Gjoa field in the North Sea, confirming an earlier statement by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.
Preliminary estimates of the size of the discovery, called Skarfjell, range between 60 and 160 million barrels of recoverable oil, said a statement issued by Wintershall, the chemical group's oil & gas subsidiary, in Germany.
"The Skarfjell discovery is another important milestone for Wintershall and adds further growth potential to our portfolio on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS)," said Martin Bachmann, board member in charge of exploration and production.
Wintershall Norge holds 35 percent of the license, while Bayerngas Norge has 20 percent, Agora Oil & Gas another 20 percent, Edison International Norway (EIX.N) 15 percent, and RWE (RWEG.DE) unit RWE Dea Norge 10 percent, it said.
The statement said the exploration drilling operation, between the Grosbeak discovery to the south and the Titan discovery to the north, had yielded promises of high quality light oil.
Further appraisal drilling would now take place to confirm commercial viability and future potential.
Wintershall holds over 40 licences on the NCS and acts as operator on 20 of them.
It has long-term goals to raise its daily production on the Norwegian and British continental shelf to 50,000 bpd oil equivalent (BOE) by 2015, from currently 4,000 bpd.
A statement by Dea called the find "significant." It said it had acquired a 10 percent stake in the licence in January as part of its strategy to strengthen its position in the area.
Dea Norge is operator of an adjacent licence, in which the promising Titan oil and gas discovery was made in 2010, it said.
Dea Norge has been awarded seven new licences in the Norwegian Sea in 2012, two of them as operator, it added.
(Reporting by Victoria Klesty and Vera Eckert, editing by Louise Heavens)