Norwegian Statoil (STO) opened up its first exploration well on land in the Sahara Desert in Algeria, the company said on Thursday.

The drilling will be done in the oil rich Hassi Mouina block in western Algeria which stretches over 14,000 miles. Operations started in September last year. The work program comprises of drilling the minimum of two wells.

“Through this drilling program we will gain a good assessment of the resource-potential in the area. In addition we will attain invaluable experience for future projects in similar areas. The use of what is for us, new technology is exciting and gives us expertise in new areas,” said David Poole, vice president for exploration in Algeria.

Shares of STO were down 14 cents at $27.22 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.