UK imposes gas curbs
Britain is still seen by Statoil as an interesting market for Norwegian gas despite changes to government policy.
The UK authorities plan a more restrictive attitude towards new gas-fired power station developments, notes the group's Georg Gundersen, who chairs Norway's Gas Negotiating Committee.
"Proposals in a White Paper on this subject mean that Britain's electricity sector won't grow as fast as expected. But we're still very interested in the UK market."
One new gas sales contract has so far been concluded with a British buyer, committing Statoil's Alliance Gas subsidiary to buy 550 million cubic metres annually for 15 years from 2001.
These supplies are earmarked to fuel a power station planned by Statoil and the Swedish-Swiss ABB group at Scunthorpe in northern England.
An application to build this facility has been submitted to the authorities, and Statoil UK managing director Thor Otto Lohne is confident it will be approved despite the energy policy shift.
"The government's new approach isn't a blanket ban, but sets criteria which gas-fired power projects must satisfy," he notes. "Each application is being assessed on a case-by-case basis."
Underlying the policy change is a government review of Britain's electricity sources, among which coal, nuclear power and gas are the most important.