Statoil Mulls Reducing Stake in Gassled Pipeline

STOCKHOLM (Dow Jones Newswires), Apr. 12, 2011

Norwegian oil and gas major Statoil is evaluating a sale of some of its shares in the Gassled joint venture pipeline, according to a company spokesman.

"We consider reducing our ownership share in Gassled and believe that could potentially make capital available that we could manage elsewhere where we could use our experience and competence to create more value," Bard Glad Pedersen told Dow Jones Newswires. "We aren't considering to sell out, just to reduce our ownership."

The spokesman declined to comment on whether the firm, which owns 28.5% of Gassled, had been approached by potential buyers and said a transaction would require the approval of Norway's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.

Norwegian daily Aftenposten reported Tuesday that Statoil, Shell and Total want to sell stakes in Gassled to "foreign funds" based outside Norway, citing unnamed sources.

Gassled is used for transporting Norwegian gas to mainland Europe and the U.K. Its largest shareholder is state-run oil company Petero, which has a 45.8% stake.

U.S. oil major ExxonMobil last year sold its 8% stake in Gassled for around 6 billion kroner ($1.12 billion), so the pipeline's market value may be around NOK75 billion. Bard Glad Pedersen declined to comment on the figure.

Norwegian authorities would like the current ownership structure to remain in place but have few means to prevent a sale, Aftenposten cites Oil and Energy Ministry spokesman Erik Johnsen as saying.

Shell and Total decline to comment on the issue, Aftenposten said.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.