* Statoil to spend $5.7 bln on Aasta Hansteen gas project
* Consortium to build 480 km, $4.5 bln deepsea gas pipeline
* Developments open new area to exploration
By Gwladys Fouche and Balazs Koranyi
OSLO, Jan 8 Norway's energy industry shifted its
focus further north as oil and gas companies on Tuesday
announced over $10 billion worth of projects in the Arctic to
extract and transport offshore natural gas.
Statoil unveiled plans to develop its 47 billion
cubic metre Aasta Hansteen gas field in the Norwegian Sea for
$5.7 billion, and a consortium of 10 firms agreed to spend a
further $4.5 billion to build the 480 kilometre Polarled
pipeline to bring the gas to an onshore processing plant.
"No other oil/gas pipeline of this dimension has ever been
laid this deep before," Statoil said. "Polarled will open a new
region and facilitate further exploration activities and
development of future discoveries in the area."
The investments are likely to lead to further investment in
the Arctic and have set the stage for this summer's licensing
round, in which Norway plans to sell 86 blocks, mostly in
offshore Arctic areas.
"The Aasta Hansteen opens up a new gas province in the
northern part of the Norwegian Sea," Norway's oil ministry said
in a statement. "The creation of new infrastructure in the area
will facilitate further development and increased exploration
Polarled, Norway's biggest offshore gas pipeline since
Langeled started to deliver Norwegian gas to Britain in 2007,
will be finished by late 2016 and will also collect gas from
several smaller fields, including Royal Dutch Shell's
Linnorm and RWE's Zidane.
It will bring gas to the Shell-operated Nyhamna processing
plant on Norway's western coast for export primarily to Britain,
while possible tie-ins to other pipelines could open other
Aasta Hansteen, named after a late 19th century-early 20th
century feminist painter and writer, will be running by the
third quarter of 2017 in waters 1,300 metres deep and 300
kilometres from shore.
"If we make big finds, there will be big investments in
infrastructure," Statoil's Norwegian development chief, Oeystein
Michelsen, said in an interview.
Some analysts see the development as a test for how the
energy industry will handle its move into the Arctic waters,
particularly the more remote Barents Sea, where infrastructure
That area lacks the pipelines necessary for gas development
and needs either liquefied natural gas facilities or a new 1,000
kilometre pipeline to tie into the existing facilities.
Norway, the world's second-biggest piped gas exporter after
Russia, supplies around a fifth of Europe's consumption.
Statoil already runs the Snoevhit LNG facility in Norway's
Arctic, while Italian energy firm ENI will start up its
Goliat field next year, the first oil development in Norway's
part of the Barents Sea.
Partners in Polarled include Statoil, state-holding firm
Petoro, OMV, Shell, Total, RWE,
ConocoPhillips, Edison, Maersk and GDF Suez
In Aasta Hansteen Statoil holds 75 percent, OMV has 15
percent and ConocoPhillips has 10 percent.