OSLO, April 21 (Reuters) - Norway will ask European competition authorities whether it can provide state support to energy firm Statoil to bring oil and gas to the shore from its Johan Castberg field in the Arctic, the oil minister said on Tuesday.
Statoil initially favoured piping the oil to an onshore loading terminal, but deemed it too expensive and said pumping it onto tankers at sea might be a more viable option.
"Bringing it to the shore ensures the best resource management and the greatest benefits to the Finnmark county, so that the Norwegian people get the most out of it," oil minister Tord Lien told an oil conference.
"We must look at what manoeuvring room we have to bring the oil and gas to the shore."
Though not a member of the European Union, Norway has extensive economic ties with the bloc as a member of the European Economic Area and accepts EU competition law.
The onshore terminal would create jobs in an area with relatively low employment and also create capacity that could be utilised by future finds in the Barents Sea, an under-explored area where Norway hopes for more discoveries.
Castberg, with up to 600 million barrels of oil equivalents, is one of Statoil's most expensive projects and has been delayed several times as the firm tries to reduce costs.
Analysts estimate that even with offshore loading, costs could be close to $80 per barrel, well above the current $63 per barrel oil price.
Lien said Castberg would be eventually built, even though Statoil has delayed the project three times since 2013.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Mark Potter)
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