2001 Good Year for Statoil

Statoil achieved a good result in 2001. Income before tax for 2001 totaled NOK 56.2 billion (USD 6.2 billion) as against NOK 60 billion (USD 6.8 billion) the year before. Net income came to NOK 17.2 billion (USD 1.9 billion), an increase of NOK 1.1 billion (USD 121 million) from 2000. The return on capital employed after tax amounted to 19.9 per cent (17.6 per cent after adjusting for special items) for 2001, as against 18.7 per cent the year before.

Oil and gas production averaged 1 007 000 barrels of oil equivalents (boe) per day in 2001, as against 1 003 000 the year before. The daily average in the fourth quarter of 2001 was 1,091,000 boe. New fields on stream and high gas sales were the main reasons for the high level of production in this period.

The Statoil board has recommended to the annual general meeting that a dividend of NOK 2.85 (USD 0.32) per share be paid for 2001. "These results are encouraging given that our markets have been substantially weaker over the past year, with lower oil prices and narrower refining margins," comments Statoil chief executive Olav Fjell. "They show that we again made substantial progress in 2001."

The group was substantially strengthened by the acquisition of assets from the state's direct financial interest (SDFI) in Norwegian petroleum operations. Statoil's oil and gas reserves increased by 50 percent. The successful stock market listing in June has given Statoil greater financial flexibility.

The underlying profitability has been improved by meeting the target of reducing costs by NOK 4 billion since the improvement program was adopted in 1999, and by strengthening the group's portfolio through a reduction of just over 20 percent in capital employed up to December 31st.

During 2001, Statoil sanctioned a number of major projects on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) and internationally. These will contribute to long-term growth and development. The group also concluded substantial new gas contracts, which strengthen its position in new and existing markets.

Net income for the fourth quarter of 2001 came to NOK 2.6 billion, while income before tax was NOK 8.8 billion. Adjusted for special items, net income came to NOK 3.1 billion as against NOK 4.7 billion in the same period of 2000. Earnings per share, adjusted for special items, came to NOK 1.43 (USD 0.16) as against NOK 2.39 (USD 0.27) for the fourth quarter of the year before.

"The decline in income for the fourth quarter largely reflects lower oil and gas prices, narrower refining margins and a weaker financial result," comments Mr Fjell. "But production set a new record."

The fourth-quarter results also include a gain of roughly NOK 900 million after tax relating to the sale of Statoil's operations in Vietnam, and a write-down of about NOK 1.4 billion after tax on the LL652 oil field in Venezuela.

A number of new fields came on stream in 2001, including Glitne, Huldra, the Gullfaks satellites and Snorre North on the NCS and Girassol off Angola. Statoil is currently involved in 11 fields under development off Norway and internationally. Finding and development costs for the group came to USD 4.6 per boe in 2001, as against USD 11.8 the year before. Production costs per boe declined from USD 3.1 in 2000 to USD 2.9. Statoil's proven oil and gas reserves totaled 4,277 million boe at December 31, 2001. This represents a decline of 40 million boe over the year.

At 89 percent, the reserve replacement rate for 2001 was influenced by the sale of assets on the NCS and in Vietnam. Adjusted for these disposals, reserve replacement came to 112 percent. "We're prioritizing efforts to improve our reserve replacement rate by maturing proven discoveries and by increasing our commitment to exploration," says Mr Fjell. Activity was also high in the gas sector. Statoil concluded new sales contracts in the UK, Poland, the USA and Spain during 2001, and began deliveries to Italy. A marketing company was established in Turkey together with KOC.

"We occupy a strong position in an expanding European gas market, and we'll be continuing to exploit that in coming years," observes Mr Fjell. "And the Snohvit project in the Barents Sea means that we'll also be a player in the global market for liquefied natural gas, which is growing fast as well." Within manufacturing and marketing, oil trading in particular achieved a substantial improvement. Statoil traded an average of 2.2 million barrels of oil per day in 2001. This included its own production, crude sold on behalf of the state and trade with purchased oil.

The group again achieved a satisfactory refining result in 2001, even though it was weakened somewhat by lower margins. Retailing yielded better results than 2000, thanks to a combination of better margins and reduced cost. At 31 December, Statoil had 21 new automated petrol stations in operation under its 1-2-3 brand. Development of the new station network will strengthen the group's competitiveness and help it to maintain market share.

Results from the methanol business were the best since the manufacturing plant at Tjeldbergodden became operational in 1997. Production was high and stable.

Statoil stepped up its efforts during 2001 to prevent harm to people and the environment. After several years of stagnation, safety results improved substantially. However, two fatalities were suffered by contractors working for the Statoil group. Both have been thoroughly investigated, and measures which could help to prevent similar accidents adopted. The total recordable injury frequency, which measures injuries per million working hours, declined from 10.1 in 2000 to 6.7. This is the lowest level in Statoil's history. Sickness absence remained low, and was further reduced from 3.5 percent in 2000 to 3.4 percent. An improvement was also seen for incidents with a high loss potential, from 4.3 to 4.1. "We will continue to keep a close eye on developments in the safety area," says Mr Fjell. "Work to reinforce our safety culture and the role of managers is very important in that context. "We also place great emphasis on cooperation with other companies, the unions and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate."

Income before financial items came to NOK 56.2 billion. Adjusted for special items, this figure amounted to NOK 53.9 billion as against NOK 60 billion in 2000. This represents a decline of six percent, which primarily reflects lower oil prices and narrower refining margins. These effects were offset to some extent by an increase in gas prices, higher oil sales and sales gains. Adjusted for special items relating to the sale and write-down of assets, net income came to NOK 15.2 billion as against NOK 16.2 billion in 2000. The return on capital employed in 2001 was 17.6 percent, compared with 18.7 percent in 2000 after adjusting for special items. Tax expenses for 2001 totaled NOK 38.5 billion as against NOK 40.5 million the year before. The price of Brent Blend reference crude fell by 14 per cent during 2001, from USD 28.5 (NOK 251) per barrel to USD 24.4 (NOK 210). Gas prices averaged NOK 1.22 per cubic meter, compared with NOK 0.99 the year before. Investments totaled NOK 17.4 billion. The group's debt-equity ratio came to 39 percent, and is regarded as satisfactory.

Business area results for the fourth quarter. Income before financial items for Exploration & Production Norway in the fourth quarter came to NOK 6.9 billion, compared with NOK 14.1 billion for the same period of 2000. This decline primarily reflects lower oil prices, higher exploration costs and increased depreciation as a result of higher production and new fields on stream. These effects have been partially offset by increased lifting of oil and higher gas prices, as well as reduced operating costs.

Adjusted for special items, International Exploration & Production recorded a loss of NOK 502 million before financial items for the fourth quarter. That compares with a loss of NOK 205 million in the same period of 2000. Income before financial items for Natural Gas in the fourth quarter totaled NOK 2.5 billion, as against NOK 3.1 billion for the same period of 2000. This decline mainly reflects lower gas prices and a reduced contribution from Statpipe because Statoil's equity interest in this North Sea transport system was reduced. Income before financial items for Manufacturing & Marketing in the fourth quarter came to NOK 1.2 billion, compared with NOK 1.4 billion in the same period of 2000. This result was influenced by weak refinery margins and some decline in earnings at the Navion shipping subsidiary. Oil trading did better than in 4th quarter 2000, while results for retailing were on a par with the same period of last year.