Centrica to Open Shop in Norway

Centrica will expand its international exploration and production business by opening an office in Norway this week, ahead of its planned participation in the Norwegian licensing round in September.

Norway is just one of the areas targeted by Centrica as part of its exploration strategy to secure new supplies for its British Gas customers. The company also plans to look at the U.K. and Dutch sectors.

Centrica qualified as an operator and licensee in Norway during 2004 and plans to farm-in to several exploration wells in the Norwegian sector, which will drill during 2007 or 2008. It will also evaluate equity gas opportunities within producing fields in the Norwegian sector.

The Norwegian business, known as Centrica Energi, is currently recruiting a country manager and exploration specialists in the country’s oil and gas capital, Stavanger.

Norway is expected to overtake the U.K. Continental Shelf (UKCS) in gas production over the coming years. Commercial reserves in Norway are around two and a half times larger than those in the U.K. Norway, however, is approximately 10-15 years behind the U.K. in terms of exploratory drilling.

Centrica already has a presence within the Norwegian oil and gas sector, from its interest in the Statfjord oil and gas field that straddles the U.K. and Norwegian sectors. It also buys gas for its British Gas customers from Statoil on a landmark 10-year contract signed in 2002, which helped to underpin the investment needed for the Langeled pipeline bringing gas to the U.K.

“This is a natural step for Centrica to develop a greater presence in Norway, which is currently one of the world’s largest gas-producing countries with significant reserves,” said Jake Ulrich, Centrica’s managing director. “We already have relationships with key companies in the Norwegian sector and are well-known through our landmark agreement with Statoil to bring more Norwegian gas to the U.K. for our British Gas customers. We look forward to pursuing future opportunities within Norway over the coming years.”