Statoil Prioritizes Value Creation Over Acquisition of Explorers

Statoil ASA (STL) said recent discoveries make buying an exploration company less attractive, just as Norway’s biggest oil and gas company is said to have stepped up its search for possible takeover targets.

“If you look at our resource base today, buying an exploration company isn’t highest on our agenda,” Statoil Chief Executive Officer Helge Lund said in an interview in London today. “That’s not a priority for us.”

Statoil, which is expanding abroad and into so-called unconventional resources such as shale oil and gas, has been said to be on the look-out for deals that would be made possible by a dilution of the Norwegian state’s 67 percent stake in the company, a possibility the government has mooted. Tullow Oil Plc (TLW) is one target Statoil has considered, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

Statoil has found 3.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent during the past three years with successful exploration from Norway to Tanzania. The Norwegian company was the industry’s most successful explorer last year, finding more conventional resources than anyone else, it said in presentation material.

“I have the best exploration team,” Lund said today. “With the resource base we have, the main focus is to advance that in a value-creating way.”

Statoil will continue to consider acquisitions like the one of Brigham Exploration Co. in 2011, when it expanded into shale oil, just as it considers exploration opportunities and the sale and purchase of specific assets, Lund said. The CEO declined to comment on specific companies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mikael Holter in Oslo at mholter2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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