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2014-05-08 18:45:00

NORWAY: OIL PROFIT RISES

NORWAY: OIL PROFIT RISES

Norway's government made 4.3% more on the year on its oil and gas fields in the first quarter, mainly due to higher energy prices, the company that manages the resources said Thursday, as it warned of rising costs and project delays.

State-owned Petoro AS said it has transferred 38.9 billion Norwegian kroner ($6.6 billion) to the Norwegian government in the first quarter, compared with NOK37.3 billion a year earlier.

Petoro said the profitability of both old and new fields off Norway is threatened by "creeping inefficiencies" in the country's oil sector, and said it is "disturbing" that standard jobs now take twice as long as 20 years ago.

"Challenges apply for profitable recovery of the ever-decreasing volumes in mature oil fields," said Petoro Chief Executive Grethe K. Moen. "To meet these challenges, we need to set ambitious targets and adopt radical measures."

The company said it aims to drill twice as many wells each year, while cutting the costs in half. Production wells account for about half the cost of a development, it said.

Despite record-high oil-sector spending in recent years, Norway's oil and gas output dropped 19% from a peak a decade ago to 3.7 million barrels a day in 2013.

Norway was the sixth biggest gas exporter and the 10th biggest oil exporter in the world in 2012, according to the country's Petroleum Directorate.

Profitability is also threatened by the small size of new discoveries, Petoro said. Half the developments currently under consideration are smaller than 27 million barrels of oil equivalent, it said, or sufficient to feed the country's current output for a week.

Petoro said it is especially worried about the delay of a subsea compression project at the massive Ormen Lange gas field amid higher costs and lower resource estimates. Petoro said it voted against the decision because higher investments were needed to boost output and realize the field's value.

Oil prices fell in dollar terms, but due to a weaker Norwegian krone, Petoro got an average NOK670 a barrel for its oil in the first quarter, up 4.5% on the year. The company got NOK2.57 a cubic meter for its natural gas, up 14% on the year.

Government-owned fields produced 1.109 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in the quarter, down 1% from the year-earlier period, Petoro said.

First-quarter investments rose 38% on the year to NOK9.6 billion, amid high spending on partnership-owned rigs for the Oseberg and Gullfaks fields, investments in the Gassled export pipeline system and the development of Martin Linge, Petoro said.

wsj.com

Tags: NORWAY, OIL

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