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Steady northward course

March 29, 2006, 16:00 CEST

The Barents Sea could become Europe's next leading offshore oil and gas province by 2020, said Helge Lund in his speech at the Mot Nord (Looking north) conference in Bodø today, 29 March.

The chief executive attended the conference to talk about the group's perspectives on petroleum activities in northern Norway. Among the participants at the conference, that was organised by the Labour Party in the three northernmost counties of Norway, was foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

In his speech Helge Lund emphasised that, in addition to the Barents Sea, he finds the coast outside Nordland county in northern Norway to be among the most interesting exploration areas on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS):

"Statoil is already engaged in activities in the Norwegian Sea and the southern areas of the NCS off Nordland, and Snøhvit is our first development project in the Barents Sea" he says. "Now we are ready to start exploring the northern areas off Nordland."

Mr Lund went on to explain that the interest shown by Statoil and other companies in the far north is primarily based on the assumed volume of resources. But our activities in these areas also provide a unique opportunity to develop a new and stable oil and gas province.

This will also give Statoil the opportunity to further develop the technology and expertise developed by the Norwegian industry through 40 years, preferably in cooperation with our international activities.

"The Barents Sea could be a melting pot for innovation and cooperation across nations, trades and industries," stressed Mr Lund, and he also underlined that a safe and efficient operation is a prerequisite for Statoil to achieve long-term value creation:

"No one must doubt our intense efforts to avoid incidents that could harm people or the environment."

The discussion on petroleum operations in northern Norway must focus on the great perspectives and opportunities of this area, says Mr Lund:

"While the Norwegian petroleum industry is on the way north, the Russians are moving westwards from their core areas in Siberia. Our and their oil and gas interests overlap in the Barents Sea. From an industrial point of view we must regard the Barents Sea as one sea. Only then can we achieve collaboration, synergies and common solutions across boundaries.