Divided views on gas

March 16, 2000, 12:00 CET

Norway's Gas Supply Committee (FU) has failed to agree on which additional fields should supply gas to fulfil existing sales contracts.

This disunity was reflected in the report submitted by this advisory body to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy on 15 March.

Statoil has called for an allocation to its Kvitebjørn field in the North Sea from 2004, with backing from Conoco, Elf, Norsk Hydro and Total. It also wants its Gullfaks satellites phase II project to supply more gas.

Other companies among the 12 represented in the FU have proposed Statoil's Mikkel and Hydro's Oseberg/Oseberg Delta fields. And some want no allocations at all in this round.

None of these proposals achieve a majority among the committee's members.

Under existing contracts with European buyers, Norway still needs to designate fields capable of delivering just over 400 billion cubic metres of gas.

Statoil justifies its Kvitebjørn recommendation on the grounds that this is the most mature development project off Norway, and commercially profitable.

Companies recommending allocations argue that new developments provide bigger capacity and the basis for new sales contracts.

Those FU members opposed to action at this stage argue that capacity is sufficient in the medium to long term, and that it would also be possible to start deliveries under possible new contracts up to 2004/2005.

The recommendations are based on the assumption that the ministry will reach a decision on the issue before the summer.