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Markets

Statoil eyes UK exploration push

OSLO: Norway's Statoil, fresh from exploration success in its home country, is looking for opportunities in Britain's No
09 Mar 2012

statoil_OSLO: Norway's Statoil, fresh from exploration success in its home country, is looking for opportunities in Britain's North Sea, where it believes large oil and gas deposits could still be found, a top executive told Reuters.

Statoil largely abandoned the mature and heavily explored British part of the North Sea a decade ago, but now sees new ways of analysing the prospects, exploration chief Tim Dodson said in an interview.

"We consider both acreage that is open, which will be made available in the UK's 27th concession round coming up in the North Sea, and acreage that other companies are sitting on and where we might be able to farm in. We have a process," he said.

"I've decided I want to have one more look at this. It's been ten years since we really looked seriously at the UK."

Statoil's Johan Sverdrup field, found in a mature sector of the Norwegian continental shelf, was the world's largest offshore oil discovery in 2011 with estimates ranging from 1.7 billion to 3.3 billion barrels.

The giant field, stretching across several offshore license blocks, was found by operators Statoil and Sweden's Lundin in separate drilling operations that took advantage of new ways to interpret geological formations and seismic data.

"The UK and Norway are part of the same basin. Have we actually taken the latest ideas we had in Norway, where you had the Johan Sverdrup field, have they actually done that on the UK side? Some people argue yes, I argue maybe not," Dodson said.

"The UK side of the North Sea has generated an awful lot of oil and gas and I still think there could be potential for making some fairly significant oil and gas discoveries there."

Britain launched its latest licensing round on Feb. 1 with up to 2,800 blocks made available. Deadline for applications is May 1.

"I wouldn't be surprised if during the next half year or so you might see Statoil taking some positions in the U.K.," Dodson said.

The Norwegian company has a global exploration portfolio with assets ranging from Brazil to Canada, Tanzania, Angola, Indonesia and more.

It is currently negotiating a farm-in opportunity scheduled for drilling in 2012, Dodson said, but he declined to say where.

Copyright Reuters, 2012