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Statoil partners with China in Gulf of Mexico
Published on: 2009-11-06
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OSLO — Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA agreed last month to sell part of its interests in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, a company spokesman said Thursday.

Statoil spokesman Ola Morten Aanestad said Statoil and CNOOC signed the agreement on Oct. 29, making the Chinese oil concern part owner of four Statoil leases in the region.

Aanestad said Statoil sold 20 percent of its shares in one lease and 10 percent in each of the other three leases, but declined to say for how much.

He said the move was "in line" with Statoil's strategy in the Gulf, where the company's American-based subsidiary is among the largest owners of deep-water leases, with more than 400 licenses.

By selling part of its stake in a license during the early stages of development, Statoil shares the risk and costs, a common strategy in the oil industry.

"We have been very active in acquiring licenses in the Gulf of Mexico the last few years, and we have no tradition of keeping licenses on a 100 percent basis," Aanestad said. "It's rare for us to stay with 100 percent ownership of licenses."

Aanestad said Statoil "might" look for other partners in the region soon, but wouldn't provide details.

The company, which beat analysts expectations Wednesday by reporting a 5 percent uptick in third-quarter net profit, announced in May that it planned to change its name from StatoilHydro to Statoil. The change went into effect Nov. 1.

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