Russia's Prime Minister visited the Ormen Lange plant

March 28, 2006, 17:00 CEST

Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg visited Hydro's land-based facility for the gas from the Ormen Lange field today. The Russian Prime Minister confirmed that there will be a closer evaluation in April of the offers to be made to the companies wanting to take part in the Shtokman project.

Both Hydro and Statoil want to participate in developing the large gas and condensate field Shtokman.

"It is very pleasant to have the Russian Prime Minister visit Aukra," said Eivind Reiten, President and CEO of Hydro. The Russian Prime Minister and the rest of the group were met by glorious sunshine and beautiful spring weather at Nyhamna in Aukra municipality, in the county Møre and Romsdal, where Hydro is building the processing facility for the gas from the huge Ormen Lange field.

"We have been shown a large and modern project, and I have found the visit interesting," said the Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Fradkov.

He pointed out that it is the Russian oil company Gazprom that will choose the Shtokman partners, and that there are several strong competitors in the running. "There are lots of questions, not least regarding the relationship we have to Norway. It’s no coincidence that we are here," he said.

Fradkov was asked by the press if there were any plans for aluminium industry in Murmansk.

"We haven’t put aluminium on the agenda, but the fact that the question has come up shows the potential that exists in our cooperation," said Fradkov.

Ormen Lange - a model project

For Hydro, the gas field Ormen Lange is a project that serves as a model in the Northern Areas. The field is the largest gas field on the Norwegian continental shelf, and was discovered in 1997. "We want to show that the experiences we have from Ormen Lange can be transferred to Russian conditions," Reiten said. With sub-zero temperatures on the sea bed, the Ormen Lange development has many similarities to Shtokman, and Reiten pointed out that the same kind of technology can be used for developing Shtokman.

"And by all means with us as a partner," he added with a smile.

The Ormen Lange field is located 120 kilometres north-west of the coast of the county Møre and Romsdal, and is being developed using subsea installations. When the plant is completed in 2007, the gas will be transported by pipeline to Nyhamna where it will be treated, before being sent in a 1200 kilometre long pipeline to Easington in England.

"We have completed over 60 per cent of the development, and are on course to finish the project on time and on budget," Reiten said.

Long-standing cooperation

He emphasized the long-standing cooperation Hydro has had with Russia. "We have cooperated with Russia for 50 years," Reiten pointed out. It is 17 years since Hydro started to work with the Shtokman field. The company took part in the drilling of well number four on the field. This summer, Hydro will assist in drilling well number seven.

President and CEO of Statoil, Helge Lund, represented Statoil during the visit. The company is partner in the Ormen Lange development, and has responsibility for developing the export pipeline Langeled, which is to transport the Ormen Lange gas from Nyhamna to England. In his presentation, Lund emphasized the importance of trustworthy oil and gas supplies to European and American markets. "We can ensure development of the Norwegian gas network further north, to the Norwegian and Russian sides of the Barents Sea," Lund said.

Hydro and Statoil are two of five companies who have reached the shortlist of possible partners for the Shtokman field. Gazprom has indicated that it will be closer to achieving a clarification regarding Shtokman by the end of April.