The partners in Statoil's Kvitebjørn gas and condensate field in the North Sea have resolved to postpone its development for a year.
Low prices for gas and condensate and conditions in the European gas market are the most important factors underlying this decision.
Gas buyers in Italy and the Czech Republic have announced that they will not be exercising options totalling three billion cubic metres per year in existing Norwegian sales contracts.
The earliest date for bringing Kvitebjørn on stream now appears to be 2003, rather than 2002 as earlier planned.
To begin producing by the new deadline, however, the field must be included in the next set of recommendations from the Gas Supply Committee (FU) on sources of additional gas to fulfil existing Norwegian sales contracts. These proposals are due to be submitted to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy next March.
The Kvitebjørn licensees will devote the winter and spring to reviewing the whole project in a bid to identify ways of cutting the cost of a development and improving its competitiveness.
This review will include a solution for the condensate and the possibility of full processing on the field. The partners want to submit a plan for development and operation (PDO) to the authorities before Christmas 1999.
Once the PDO has been sent in, the licensees aim to invite possible suppliers to tender for a number of development contracts. Field installations on Kvitebjørn are expected to cost around NOK 5.5 billion.