Statoil Seen Driving Norway Oil, Gas Asset Deals to 2014 Record

Offshore-asset sales in Norway may reach a record this year as Statoil ASA, the nation’s biggest energy company, reaps the benefits of exploration success and refocuses on its larger projects, said Wood Mackenzie Ltd.

Transactions involving stakes in Norwegian offshore fields reached 15 billion kroner ($2.5 billion) in 2013, second only to the previous 12 months when deals reached 19 billion kroner, the Edinburgh-based consulting firm said in a statement today. Statoil led the way in terms of value last year, selling $2.65 billion sale of assets in Norway and U.K. to OMV AG in August.

“We think that will continue this year, there will probably be a big transaction from Statoil,” Woodmac analyst Malcolm Dickson said by phone. “Its exploration success globally and in Norway has allowed it to refocus on what’s core for it, and divest non-core stakes and assets in Norway for value it can then use elsewhere in its portfolio.”

Stavanger-based Statoil, which is 67 percent-owned by the Norwegian government, has said it will become more selective in its investments after spending hits records amid higher costs and falling profitability. Divestments in Norway and elsewhere should be seen as a “pattern,” Chief Executive Officer Helge Lund said in an interview earlier this month.

The company has sold North Sea assets for more than $5 billion during the past two years. At the same time exploration has yielded an average reserve replacement ratio of 1.01 from 2010 to 2012, meaning the company has added more oil and gas than it’s produced. Statoil found almost 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent in 2013, more than any other company, it said.

Other companies seeking to sell assets in Norway include Talisman Energy Inc. and Marathon Oil Corp., who have said they will leave the Nordic country, while RWE AG is looking to sell its Dea oil and gas unit. “There will be plenty of potential deals,” Woodmac’s Dickson said.

Capital investments in Norway’s oil industry rose 30 percent to a record 176 billion kroner in 2013, excluding exploration costs, and are expected to stay at about that level this year, Woodmac estimates.

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