Statoil, partners to spend US$5.9B on new Arctic oil field

OSLO (AFP) – Norwegian oil giant Statoil and its partners plan to invest 49 billion kroner (nearly five billion euros, US$5.9 billion) to develop the Arctic Johan Castberg oil field, a cost cut in half compared to initial forecasts.

Located about 240 kilometres from the far northern Norwegian town of Hammerfest, the offshore project is scheduled to launch production in 2022, Statoil said in a development plan submitted yesterday to the Norwegian authorities.

Its recoverable reserves are estimated at between 450 and 650 million barrels of oil equivalent.

The project’s fate has long been uncertain as the necessary investment was initially estimated at more than 100 billion kroner, requiring a barrel at 80 dollars to be profitable. Thanks to a redefinition of the concept and the general drop in costs in the oil services sector, the bill was reduced to 49 billion kroner with a break-even point at less than 35 dollars per barrel.

This investment is good news for the oil sector in Norway, where black gold production has halved since its peak in 2000-2001.

The operation of Johan Castberg is expected to represent about 1,700 jobs, including 500 in northern Norway, Statoil said in a statement.

Statoil owns 50 per cent of the project, which includes Italy’s Eni (30 per cent) and the Norwegian public company Petoro (20 per cent).