Statoil and Gazprom discuss development of Shtokman gas field

Nov 20, 2003 01:00 AM

Norwegian oil and gas firm Statoil said it was in talks with Gazprom about developing the huge Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea, broadening its international focus. Statoil, which sees Russia as a key part of its long-term strategy, operates the Snoehvit LNG field in the Norwegian Barents Sea, raising the possibility of future synergies in the Arctic area.
"Nothing specific has come out of the talks. This is still at the idea-sharing stage," Statoil spokesman Kai Nielsen said, adding that Norway's biggest company was aiming for a partnership stake in any future Shtokman development. Snoehvit is due to come on stream in 2006, and Norway's oil industry is pushing to convince Oslo to allow more developments in the mostly unexplored Barents Sea, which environmentalists say is among the world's most ecologically sensitive areas.

Shtokman is one of the world's biggest gas fields with estimated recoverable reserves of 3 tcm. Statoil's acting CEO Inge Hansen expressed interest in participating in Shtokman when he visited Moscow recently. Nielsen said Statoil and Gazprom had met several times after that.
The news of Statoil's talks with Gazprom had little immediate impact on Statoil shares. Any development of Shtokman would take a long time, but analysts hailed the company's interest in Russia as strategically important.

"I think it's important that Statoil focuses not only on what will happen next week or next month, but that it has a long-term perspective. That is positive," analyst Arnstein Vigestrand at Enskilda Securities said. "Russia has huge oil and gas reserves, and any developments in the Barents Sea could yield synergies at a later stage," he said, urging a "cautious approach" in Russia due to political uncertainty related to investments in the former Soviet Union.
Statoil forecasts that foreign oil and gas business will gradually replace the Norwegian shelf as its main income source as the Norwegian North Sea is maturing.

Source: AP
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