Pleased with last year

February 11, 2004, 08:35 CET

Statoil's preliminary result for 2003 is financially strong. The year was characterised by good operations and record-high oil and gas production.

"Statoil's preliminary annual result for 2003 is one of the best ever for the group," says Inge K Hansen, acting chief executive. "Production of oil and gas reached record heights last year and the group's return was on a par with the best in the business.

"Overall, this shows that Statoil's management and organisation have delivered very well in relation to the targets and expectations for 2003, and we are well on the way to meeting our targets for 2004.

"There is reason to commend Statoil's employees for their efforts during the past year. Once again, the roughly 11 000 employees of the parent company will receive a full bonus amounting to five per cent of their basic salary."

Mr Hansen notes particularly that production costs on the NCS have been reduced, and the Barents Sea has been reopened for exploration.

The group has also made substantial strategic progress in the gas area and in international operations.

"We have strengthened our position in the European gas market through the agreement on gas export from the Ormen Lange field in the Norwegian Sea, via the Langeled pipeline," says Mr Hansen. "We are in an expansion phase for deliveries to Europe in general, and the UK in particular. The latter is set to become an important market in the years ahead."

Increased production from the Troll field in the North Sea may also contribute to securing the development of gas exports from the NCS.

"We have reflected on this matter. We want to exploit the Troll field to meet rising demand in Europe, and we will discuss this further with our partners and the authorities."

A milestone for Statoil's international operations in 2003 was reached with the agreement whereby the group becomes joint operator for the In Salah and In Amenas gas fields in Algeria. Mr Hansen also mentions Angola, where the Jasmim and Xikomba fields started producing on schedule in 2003.

"It is also gratifying to see that downstream operations are delivering increasingly better results," Mr Hansen notes.

Last year shows a positive trend for health, safety and the environment (HSE).

"We are on the right track when it comes to improving HSE statistics in general, particularly within the organisation. However, there were two fatal accidents involving contractor personnel, and that is two accidents too many."

The safe behaviour programme, which also covers contractor personnel, was launched by Statoil to improve safety. This programme represents the greatest ever focused efforts by Statoil on safety.

Statoil's fourth quarter and preliminary annual results for 2003 were presented today, 11 February.

The group's annual report and accounts will be presented on 31 March.