Norway Sells SDFI Stakes

The Ministry has completed the sale of 6.5 % of the SDFI (state's direct financial interest) portfolio. There has been wide interest from a number of companies for the interests offered for sale. A total of 30 licenses were sold. The buyers were: Norsk Hydro, TotalFinaElf, Shell, Conoco, Marathon Oil, Paladin Resources, Gaz de France, Idemitsu and DONG.

I am happy with the results we have achieved in this process. The interest from the potential bidders has been good and we have achieved satisfactory prices for the interests sold. The restructuring of the State's ownership interests on the Norwegian Continental Shelf will contribute to the creation of additional value from our petroleum activities in line with the objectives set by the Storting for the sale. The State will retain substantial direct ownership in fields following this sale. It is important that the State, in managing the petroleum resources on the NCS, continues to act with a long-term perspective says Mr. Einar Steensnæs, Minister of Petroleum and Energy.

The sale of SDFI interests will help to create further value on the NCS. The sale has contributed to harmonization of ownership in the Oseberg and Gyda/Tambar areas, a strengthening of operators in Oseberg, Grane and Draugen, and an enhancement in the development of both marginal and mature fields. In addition, new companies on the NCS have been able to strengthen their position through the sale.

The criteria for selecting the SDFI interests to be sold were derived from the Storting proposition no 36 (2000 – 2001) "Ownership of Statoil and future management of the SDFI" and subsequent Storting decisions. The Storting emphasized that the SDFI interests should be sold at market value provided this was satisfactory.

This sale is part of a major restructuring of the State's ownership interests on the NCS, comprising the partial privatization of Statoil ASA and the creation of Gassco AS and Petoro AS. A sale to Statoil of 15 % of the SDFI portfolio was completed in May 2001.

The price realized for the SDFI interests is NOK 8.4 billion. The price achieved is consistent with the price paid by Statoil in May 2001 taking into account differences in tax treatment applied in each transaction.

In connection with the sale a partial harmonization of the ownership interests in the Oseberg area has been accomplished. The sale of interests in the Oseberg area to Norsk Hydro and TotalFinaElf will result in interests of 34% and 10% respectively in each of the four relevant licenses. Through this an important step towards harmonization of ownership interests in this area has been accomplished. This harmonization of interests is expected to increase values through more effective exploitation of the huge oil and gas resources in the area. The Ministry will seek to establish if there is scope for further harmonization of license interests in the Oseberg area.

SDFI interests in Gyda, Tambar and neighboring exploration licenses have been sold to Dong, which recently bought Pelican. DONG has expressed its intention to work towards a harmonization of ownership interests in this area.

The sale of 10 % in Draugen to Shell and 13.6 % in Grane to Norsk Hydro will strengthen these operators' positions in important fields. Marathon's purchase of the SDFI interests in four licenses in the Heimdal area will strengthen the company's position and is expected to increase the prospects for resources in this area to be developed. The purchase by Paladin of interests in Brage and Njord is expected to assist in the further exploitation of these mature fields. The purchase by Conoco of additional interests in Heidrun is expected to assist in realizing the full potential of this field. Gaz de France and Idemitsu have each acquired interests in the Fram area.

UBS Warburg and DnB Markets and have been advisors to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. The Ministry has also been given advice by Lambert Energy Advisory and Thommessen Krefting Greve Lund.