Statoil To Buy Stake in State's Oil & Gas Assets

Norway's state oil and gas company Statoil stated it will buy a 15 percent stake of the state's oil and gas assets at a net value of 38.6 billion Norwegian crowns ($4.25 billion) after taxes.

The deal is in connection with a larger revamp of Norway's oil and gas sector, which aims to part-privatize Statoil with 15-25 percent in June and sell out 21.5 percent of the State Direct Financial Interest (SDFI) in the oil and gas sector.

"The price at 38.6 billion crowns is a price that has been negotiated between two independent parties," Olav Fjell, Statoil's chief executive officer.

He said the transaction, the largest of its kind in Norwegian history, would enable Statoil to increase its oil and gas reserves by about 50 per cent. Fjell said total production, which amounted 650,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day in 2000, would have increased by just above 50 per cent in first-quarter 2001 with the new assets.

Norway's Oil and Energy Minister Olav Askelsen said the SDFI transaction would enable Norway to increase efficiency of production at the fields on the Norwegian continental shelf. "There was a need to clean up and that could be done by selling out SDFI assets," he said.

The SDFI, which accounts for 40 percent of Norway's oil and gas resources, is to be split 15 percent to Statoil and 6.5 percent to other operators on the Norwegian continental shelf. Through the deal Statoil will get 6.9 percent in Troll, Norway's largest gas field, and all the contracts in the Sleipner gas field.

The state-owned firm will also get some contracts in its core Tampen and Haltenbanken fields, some contracts in the Barents Sea and a search area in the southern North Sea. Akselsen said a substantial amount of gas would be sold to Statoil as the country gradually shifted from oil to gas. Norway is a leading non-Opec oil exporter and pumps about 3.2 million barrels per day.