Hydro sells stake in Helland Hansen field

February 15, 2001, 00:00 CET

Hydro has sold its 20 percent stake in the Helland-Hansen gas acreage in the Norwegian Sea to BP, which also bought a 15 percent share from Shell and assumed field operatorship.

Hydro has now completely sold out of the deep water Helland-Hansen acreage, while Shell has reduced its ownership stake and relinquished its position as operator.

When the operatorship was awarded to Shell in during the 15th licensing 1996, the company had high hopes the field would become a large-scale gas field. Exploration drilling in 1998 was disappointing. Late yesterday, Shell announced it had sold a 15 percent share of Helland-Hansen and given the operatorship over to BP. Shell retains a 15 percent stake in the field.

Hydro sold BP its entire 20 percent share in the acreage. The state's direct financial interest (SDFI) continues to hold a 30 percent stake and state-owned Statoil a 20 percent share in the tract.

"We have great belief in this area," said BP exploration manager John Pickard, according to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. The company will now conduct seismic work before deciding where and when to proceed with exploration drilling.

The swap agreements are all subject to approval by the Norwegian authorities.