Very satisfied with results

May 5, 2004, 09:40 CEST

Statoil achieved its best-ever result from operations during the first quarter of 2004, and acting chief executive Erling Øverland is very satisfied with this start to the year.

“We delivered a strong result,” he says. “We’ve had high and stable production, high gas sales and reduced unit costs.”

Combined with robust oil and gas prices, this yielded a solid profit before tax and financial items of NOK 16 billion – an increase of 17 per cent from the same period of 2003.

“A successful sale of our holding in Germany’s Verbundnetz Gas (VNG) also made a positive contribution during the quarter,” Mr Øverland noted.

“We strengthened our financial position during the first quarter, and took important strategic steps both in Norway and internationally.”

Oil and gas production remained high, with the average output of 1,184,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day being the highest ever for a single quarter at Statoil.

Thanks to a solid commitment by the group’s employees, unit costs were also reduced. Strong cost management and a decline in platform and logistic expenses contributed to this.

“We’ve had the market with us,” says Mr Øverland. “Robust oil and gas prices as well as good petrochemical margins have been contributory factors.”

The first-quarter results give Statoil a positive start in meeting its 2004 targets, and position it to sustain good progress after Helge Lund takes over as chief executive in August.

“We’ve improved the operation of our facilities and also succeeded in reducing costs,” observes Mr Øverland.

“This must be viewed in light of the particularly demanding conditions facing Statoil since last autumn. The good results reflect a huge commitment by our employees and contractors.”

He extends his thanks to all employees for the good support they have given him in seeking to do the best possible job as acting chief executive during a transitional phase.

Mr Øverland wants the good work on health, safety and the environment being done by the organisation to continue.

“We’re nevertheless still experiencing too many undesirable incidents, particularly relating to dropped objects offshore and to road accidents,” he says.

“Although we have many good procedures, we are focusing attention on the subject of safe behaviour – not only at work but at all times.”