OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Statoil has made a big oil discovery offshore Canada near two previous finds and plans more wells, believing the region could become a major oil producer after 2020, it said on Thursday.
State-controlled Statoil said its Bay du Nord find, around 500 kilometers (300 miles) northeast of St. John, could contain between 300 million and 600 million barrels of recoverable oil, adding to the nearby Mizzen and Harpoon discoveries.
"The Flemish Pass has the potential to become a core producing area for Statoil post-2020," exploration chief Tim Dodson said.
Statoil, once a domestic focused explorer, has expanded rapidly over the past decade and recently made big discoveries in Brazil, Tanzania, the North Sea and the Norwegian Arctic.
The Mizzen find offshore Canada is thought to contain between 100 million and 200 million barrels of recoverable oil while Harpoon, found in June, is still under evaluation.
Statoil has drilled just a handful of wells in the 8,500 square kilometers Flemish Pass area in eastern Canada, and said more work was needed before any commercial decisions were made.
"This will involve new seismic as well as additional exploration and appraisal drilling to confirm these estimates before the partnership can decide on an optimal development solution in this frontier basin," Dodson added.
Statoil operates all three of the Canadian licenses and holds a 65 percent stake, while Husky Energy has a 35 percent interest.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Mark Potter)