New Baku office opened
The new Statoil office in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, was officially opened on 13 May in the presence of some 400 guests.
Those present were drawn from the authorities, the diplomatic service, industry and cultural life. Norwegian scientist and author Thor Heyerdahl was guest of honour.
Chief executive Harald Norvik and Rolf Magne Larsen, senior vice president for International Exploration & Production, were also present at the opening.
Statoil has been in Baku since 1992, in alliance with BP. Following the BP-Amoco merger, this partnership was dissolved and the group moved into its own offices in January.
The importance of a Statoil presence in Azerbaijan was emphasised by Mr Norvik during the ceremony, and he made it clear that the group's ambition was to become the operator of new offshore fields.
He added that it would strive to achieve a leading role in oil transport systems and in Azerbaijan's gas industry.
Statoil currently has 45 employees in Baku, 70 per cent of whom are local staff. The 800 square metre office lies on the edge of the city centre.
The group expects to invest USD 60 million in Azerbaijan this year, and to more than double that spending in 2000. It ranks today as one of the three largest foreign oil companies operating in the Caucasian country in terms of reserves.
Statoil has an 8.56 per cent interest in the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), 25.5 per cent in the Shah Deniz prospect in the Caspian and 15 per cent in the new Alov prospect in the same waters.
Three options have so far been proposed for a pipeline to export about a million barrels of oil per day from the country.