Operations temporarily suspended on Plataforma Deltana

June 1, 2005, 11:55 CEST

For safety reasons, Statoil has decided to temporarily suspend the drilling campaign on the Ballena 1-X well in block 4 of the Plataforma Deltana area off Venezuela.

Despite six weeks of extensive repairs by rig owner Transocean, the technical standard of the Sovereign Explorer drilling rig does not meet Statoil's requirements to safe operations for drilling in high-pressure reservoirs.

Statoil has a goal to cause zero harm to people and the environment, and as a prudent international operator will not risk proceeding with operations that do not comply with the group's safety standards.

Venezuela's Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and national oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) have been notified.

Statoil will take the necessary steps to resume operations as soon as possible. This includes searching for an alternative drilling rig. Statoil is committed to fulfilling all its obligations established in the licence.

Statoil is the operator of block 4 of Plataforma Deltana through a licence awarded by the Ministry of Energy and Mines in February 2003. The minimum exploration campaign consists of three exploratory wells over a period of four years.