Profitability and growth are central themes at the company's Capital Markets Update meeting in Stavanger on June 8th.
An ambition to raise annual entitlement production of gas towards 50 billion cubic meters by 2015 is being presented. This represents a doubling from the present level, and corresponds to an average annual growth of eight per cent in 2004-15.
"We're now stretching for a very ambitious increase in gas output, which will call for a big commitment from the whole organization," says chief executive Helge Lund.
"The gas market is expanding rapidly, and much of our core competence lies in the gas value chain."
This ambition calls for increased concentration on liquefied natural gas (LNG), development of new discoveries, and improved recovery from existing fields both off Norway and internationally.
Statoil and its partners are currently evaluating a second development phase on the Sn°hvit field in the Barents Sea, for instance.
"Our profitability is good and we are on schedule towards our 2007 targets," says Mr Lund. "At the same time, we're continuing to work on the main strategic challenges we've already identified. "We will be maximizing value creation on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), and we aim to build profitable and long-term international growth."
Substantial building blocks put in place so far this year include the strategic acquisition in the Gulf of Mexico and the Statfjord late life project in the North Sea.
In addition comes the development proposals submitted to Russia's Gazprom for the Shtokmanovskoye gas field in the Barents Sea.
The level of exploration activity has been stepped up both on the NCS and internationally with the aim of securing a further 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in new resources by 2007.
Annual exploration costs are expected to lie between NOK 3.5-4 billion during this period.
Cost reductions, volume growth and improvement measures will help to boost profitability for the Manufacturing & Marketing business area.
The goal is a return on average capital employed (ROACE) in line with the group's normalized target (1) of 13 per cent by the end of 2007.
"Our 11 corporate initiatives, which specify purposeful improvements and growth ambitions, were launched in December and will be followed up closely," says Mr. Lund.
"Both our new gas ambition and the goal of enhanced profitability for Manufacturing & Marketing show that we're keeping up the pressure in our improvement program."
Statoil is also raising its long-term price forecast to USD 25-30 per barrel in 2005 money for future investment.
"This change takes account of underlying market conditions while also ensuring that we have a robust and long-term portfolio," Mr. Lund observes.
(1) Oil Brent USD 22 per barrel, gas NOK 0.90 per scm, NOK/USD 6.75, FCC margins USD 5 per barrel, Borealis margin EUR 140 per ton. Excluding acquisition of the deepwater portfolio in the Gulf of Mexico.
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