Statoil, Norsk Hydro See NOK50b Troll Phase 3 Online 2010

Aug 09, 2005 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- By Ian Talley Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES OSLO (Dow Jones)

Norsk Hydro ASA (NHY) and Statoil ASA (STO) expect that increased gas recoveries from a 50 billion Norwegian kroner ($1=NOK6.4026) Troll Phase III project could start as early as 2010, one of the project leaders said Monday.

The Troll partnership plans to increase gas exports from the North Sea field by 5 billion-10 billion cubic meters a year.

Rune Roenvik, Norsk Hydro's project leader for Troll Phase III, said a decision wouldn't likely be made until the middle of next year. The companies are still debating over the exact timing of the when increased gas exports would begin.

"That's the key question," Roenvik said in a telephone interview, "If it was a clear question we would have made the decision already."

The Troll field currently produces around 30 bcm of gas a year and 260,000 barrels a day of oil.

While Statoil would like to start exporting gas sooner, Norsk Hydro says it wants to focus on increasing oil recovery - a process that might be undercut if the gas is extracted too early. The gas helps to maintain the pressure in the reservoir that allows oil to be produced.

The government has set increased oil recovery as one of its highest priorities, and Oil and Energy Minister Thorhild Widvey said in May that she would be watching the Troll development plans closely.

Roenvik said that increased gas exports could start as soon as 2010, but development of the gas reserves from the Troll West field - which would provide the biggest boost in export capacity - wouldn't come before at least 2015. The companies see a startup range for the Troll West gas between 2015 and 2023.

Of the NOK50 billion the project is roughly estimated to cost, NOK30 billion will go into drilling wells to increase oil recovery and the remaining NOK20 billion into upgrading the processing facilities and platforms, including the Kollness plant, the project leader said.

Although official reserve estimates show around 1.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent, with over a billion already pumped, Roenvik said Norsk Hydro's vision is to ultimately recovery a total of 1.8 billion boe.

State-owned Petoro owns 56% share in Troll, with Statoil owning 20.8%, Norsk Hydro 9.78%, Royal Dutch/Shell (RDSB.LN) 8.10%, Total SA (TOT) 3.69%, and ConocoPhillips (COP) 1.62%.

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