Norway Announces Details Of Statoil Sale
Norway’s oil ministry announced on December 14th that it intends to sell between 10 percent and 25 percent of state oil firm Statoil.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said that: “This means that Statoil will both be able to do better in the international oil market and be a leading company in the European gas market for many years.”
The ministry also indicated that it will sell 15 percent of the state’s direct financial interest (SDFI) in the oil and gas sector to Statoil and 5 percent to Norsk Hydro and other groups.
Statoil currently manages the SDFI, which combines the state’s direct holdings in Norway’s North Sea oil fields and operations, but the government said that it will establish a new state company to manage the SDFI’s remaining assets.
Cabinet members had been in disagreement over what amount of the SDFI should be transferred to Statoil ahead of the company’s listing on the stock exchange, after the Labour Party on November 12th voted overwhelmingly to privatize up to a third of Statoil in an effort to make the company more competitive.
Statoil had long campaigned for a partial privatization and hoped to see a stock market listing in mid-2001, but disagreements between the oil and finance ministries could cause delays. Stoltenberg’s government is due to present a detailed plan concerning the privatization to parliament by Christmas.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate boasted on December 14th its forecasts for oil investment in 2001 by more than 30 percent and in 2002 by 16 percent.
The directorate expects investment in the country’s oil sector to top 50 billion crowns ($5.46 billion) in 2001 and 43 billion crowns ($4.69 billion) in the following year.