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Statoil Embracing Asset Sales as Industry Costs Outpace Profits

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March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Statoil ASA, the Norwegian energy company planning to cut capital spending by 8 percent through 2016, is seeking to sell assets in an effort to reduce costs and boost profits.

The Stavanger-based company has no timeline or fixed goal for the sales and has focused its strategy on returns over growth, said Lars Christian Bacher, executive vice president of international development and production.

“We are a resource-rich company, we have more assets than we need” to meet growth targets, Bacher said today in an interview at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston. “We are in no rush. We don’t have to sell this year.”

Oil companies from BP Plc to Royal Dutch Shell Plc have embraced asset sales to shore up finances as costs outpace oil and natural gas prices. International oil companies are seeing little to no output growth despite boosting spending 400 percent in the past decade, Bacher said.

“A lot of companies are spending more and more just to stand still,” he said.

Statoil remains open to buying U.S. assets if falling oil and gas prices put companies in financial distress, Bacher said.

“Our strategy doesn’t say that we will not buy,” he said. “It just says that we will high-grade our portfolio going forward.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Bradley Olson in Houston at bradleyolson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

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