Pleased with 19th round

March 31, 2006, 14:30 CEST

Statoil was allocated holdings in four new licences and supplementary acreage, including three operatorships, in the 19th licensing round published today, 31 March. Four of the awards are in the Barents Sea and one in the Norwegian Sea.

In the Barents Sea, Statoil has become operator for two new licences and additional acreage which are all located in various geological provinces.

"We are well pleased with the result," says Tim Dodson, senior vice president for exploration in Statoil’s Exploration & Production Norway business area. "Statoil believes that there are substantial undiscovered oil and gas reserves in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.

"The 19th round is our first major award in the Barents Sea since 1997. We are therefore satisfied with the new allocations in this area."

In the Norwegian Sea, Statoil was allocated a holding in a licence located in an area of great importance to the group.

"We now have a solid basis for continuing exploration in a wide range of exploration opportunities in all areas of the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS)," Mr Dodson says.

He says that the awards reflect the renewed interest in the Barents Sea among other companies, and he anticipates increased activity in this area in the near future.

"Statoil is well equipped to embark on these assignments, and we expect to start seismic surveys as early as next year," Mr Dodson continues.

"We have already secured access to drilling rigs to carry out the work programmes we have been awarded in the 19th round, and we plan to start drilling the first well in 2007.

"A well-qualified and suitably-dimensioned exploration staff is ready for an escalation of exploration activity on the NCS."

Statoil has been allocated the following blocks in the 19th licensing round:

Barents Sea:

7123/4 - 33.5 per cent (operator)

7226/2 and 3, 7227/1 - 50 per cent (operator)

7230/2-6 - 40 per cent (operator)

7224/6 and 7225/4 - 25 per cent

Norwegian Sea:

6603/5-8 - 20 per cent