Shell & Statoil Extend Deepwater Norwegian Exploration Agree

A collaboration between Statoil and Norske Shell on exploration in deepwater areas in the Norwegian Sea is to continue until 2009 under an extension to the agreement signed in 2001.

In the original deal, the partners joined forces to explore the Møre and Vøring Basins west of the Halten Bank area. This cooperation builds on an "area of mutual interest" (AMI).

The renewed agreement has also enlarged the AMI to cover the northeastern part of the Vøring Basin.

Collaboration between the two companies has already borne fruit, according to Tor Fjæran, Statoil's senior vice president for exploration Norway.

It yielded an oil discovery last year in the Ellida license awarded to Statoil and Shell as part of Norway's 17th offshore licensing round in 2002.

"Renewal of this agreement reflects the good collaboration we've enjoyed over three years," says Mr. Fjæran. "We've helped to strengthen each other's expertise."

He adds that expanding the agreement provides a basis for strengthening the commitment to this exploration area, where the level and pace of activity need to be boosted.

"We're very satisfied that our partnership will now become so long-term," says exploration head Christian Bukovics in Norske Shell.

The two companies are preparing a joint application covering their AMI for Norway's 18th round, which has a deadline of March 15h.