OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s Statoil said on Tuesday it was confident Eni would resolve problems besetting their joint Arctic Goliat oilfield, as a shutdown there neared its second month.
The 100,000 barrels-per-day field - operated by Eni, the senior partner in the licence - has been shut since Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) ordered its closure in early October, citing safety concerns.
“I believe they will sort out things in the end,” Statoil’s Chief Executive Eldar Saetre told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Oslo.
A spokesman for Eni’s Norwegian unit said no date had been set for the restart, though it was having a constructive dialogue with the PSA, and continuing to make the required improvements.
The PSA has said it will have to check the work is done before letting Eni restart production, an unusual step in Norway.
The problems at Goliat, the only producing oilfield in the Barents Sea, come as Norway’s right-wing government is preparing to allow more exploration and development plans in the remote region to replace output from mature North Sea fields.
Norway’s Oil and Energy Minister Terje Soeviknes said questions about Goliat’s profitability were “totally irrelevant” to the overall profitability of oil and gas production in the Arctic, as each project has to be assessed separately.
The minister told Reuters he nevertheless planned to submit a report on Goliat’s profitability to Norway’s parliament next week, in reply to numerous requests from the opposition.
The move is unprecedented as the government normally only assess profitability of new field developments before granting its consent, not the profitability of operating fields.
Soeviknes repeated an earlier statement that there had been no discussion among authorities of stripping Eni of Goliat’s operatorship, despite calls from some in the opposition.
Eni has a 65 percent stake in the Goliat’s license, and Statoil holds the remaining 35 percent.
Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg and Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Terje Solsvik and Andrew Heavens