Norway’s Labor government and opposition parties reached agreement on March 28th to sell up to one third of state oil and natural gas firm Statoil and to transfer 21.5 percent of the state’s direct financial interest (SDFI) in oil and gas to Statoil and other firms.
Parliament approved the Labor Party’s plan to sell 15 percent - 25 percent of Statoil through an initial stock market listing and to allow the company to form partnerships with foreign firms that would also take stakes.
The government had wanted to sell 15-25 percent of Statoil and 20 percent of the SDFI, 15 percent to Statoil and 5 percent to Norsk Hydro and other firms, but opposition parties had urged the government to sell off 23 percent of the SDFI, and political wrangling had threatened to prevent a planned stock market listing of Statoil in June.
Under the new plan, Statoil will receive 15 percent of the SDFI, while Norsk Hydro and other firms will get 6.5 percent.
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.
The Labor Party had voted overwhelmingly in November 2000 to privatize up to one third of Statoil in an effort to make the company more competitive.
Statoil’s chief executive, Olav Fjell, said in January that the company would not seek a possible foreign partner until after the partial privatization, although Gaz de France and Germany’s Ruhrgas have been suggested as possible partners in order to boost the company’s presence in European gas markets.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)