Norwegian oil firm DNO has begun testing its Tawke-17 exploration well in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

According to a 10 April company statement, DNO drilled the well to a depth of 4,775 metres, its deepest at the Tawke field, and encountered oil and gas in previously untested Jurassic and Triassic intervals. These lie below the main Cretaceous producing zones of the field.

The planned test programme is expected to last up to three months.

DNO is the operator of the Tawke production sharing contract and holds a 55 per cent interest. UK-Turkish energy firm Genel Energy holds a 25 per cent stake, while the remainder is held by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The company lifted crude production at the Tawke field to 100,000 barrels a day (b/d) at the end of 2012, from 70,000 b/d. It plans to ramp up production to as much as 200,000 b/d by 2015. The engineering support contract for the expansion was awarded to Aberdeen-based Wood Group PSN.

The field contains an estimated 771 million barrels of recoverable reserves. The increase will be part of a wider plan by the KRG to increase the region’s production from the three northern provinces of Iraq to 2 million b/d by 2020, compared with less than 300,000 b/d in mid-2012.