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Statoil hopes to see no negative consequences from anti-Russian sanctions

Statoil found itself in a difficult position as it is obliged to abide by both European and US anti-Russian sanctions
 Statoil CEO Helge Lund (left) EPA/Kent Skibstad
Statoil CEO Helge Lund (left)
© EPA/Kent Skibstad

OSLO, August 20. /ITAR-TASS/. Norwegian state-owned oil and gas Statoil ASA hopes Western sanctions against Russia would not lead to long-term negative results for the company as it closely cooperates with the Russian oil giant Rosneft, Statoil Chief Executive Helge Lund said on Wednesday.

Asked by the business tabloid Dagens Naeringsliv whether he fears the company’s efforts to develop relations with Russian partners and start realization of its projects in Russia were in vain, he said Statoil hoped there would be no long-term consequences but it was premature to jump to conclusions.

The company found itself in a more difficult position than many other Norwegian companies, as it is obliged to follow not only EU sanctions after Norway officially joined them last week, but also the US measures since Statoil stocks are traded on New York Stock Exchange. Besides, the company is working on several major projects in the US.

The US blacklist includes Rosneft, whereas the EU and Norway did not introduce prohibitive measures against the Russian company. According to Lund, Statoil has set up a special expert group to consider various details of sanctions imposed on Russia by different countries. The company is also involved in a dialogue with the Norwegian government to specify the effect of limitations.

The most important thing now was to understand how the sanctions would be realized and what practical consequences they would have for the company’s business, Lund said, expressing hope for a diplomatic resolution. The sector of the company’s operations worked with long-term projects, he added, but limitations would be obviously imposed in the near and medium term.

Russia was a country rich in hydrocarbons that benefitted from a neighboring country’s experience, as Norway had knowledge necessary to arrange operations in tough climate conditions, said Lund.

Room for maneuver

According to Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who officially opened Gudrun platform in the North Sea together with Lund and Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tord Lien on Tuesday, the wording of the EU sectoral sanctions is open for different interpretations, and Norway has room for maneuver. For instance, it is not absolutely clear what the document means under “the Arctic” and what depth of drilling is considered deep-water. This would only become clear in practice, and Norway had a rich experience of resolving such issues with the EU and the European Economic Area, Solberg said.

She added Statoil would have to follow the US sanctions that used clearer definitions, in particular describing deep-water drilling as drilling deeper than 500 feet, or 152 metres.

Sanctions against Russia

After Norway joined the July 31 package of anti-Russian sanctions, the government introduced a regime of preliminary approval of deals to supply equipment and technology to the Russian oil sector. The total ban concerned supplies to Russia of Norwegian equipment for deep-water drilling of oil wells and further oil production, oil exploration and production in the Arctic as well as shale oil exploration and production in Russia. It is still unclear what the country would do about supplies of equipment that can be used for both oil and gas production. The ban did not affect the contracts signed before August 16, 2014.

Rosneft-Statoil cooperation agreement signed in May 2012 suggests joint development of Norway’s offshore projects and common projects in the Russian section of the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk. In 2016-2021, the companies plan to drill six wells in the four blocks; Statoil will bear the exploration costs.

In 2013, the companies were licensed to jointly develop the promising block off the Norwegian shore in the Barents Seqa. They also plan to cooperate in developing fields in Russia’s Samara region.