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OTC told privatized Statoil won't be old firm in 'a new dress'

The partial privatization of Norwegian state oil firm Statoil AS "will not be Statoil in a new dress," according to Norway Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Energy Bjørg Sandal. On Apr. 26, the Storting approved a proposal to offer up to a third of Statoil for private ownership and to list the company on the stock exchange. "Expanding ownership will supply new expertise, partners, and capital," Sandal said. She told reporters Tuesday at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston that in her view, the movement to privatize the state firm would be "a really, really big step for the Norwegian government" as well. The Storting also approved the sale of part of the state's direct financial interest in the Norwegian Continental Shelf. It would sell 15% of the SDFI to Statoil and 6.5% to other companies. The government is in the preparatory stage to establish two new companies: a state-owned firm to manage the SDFI portfolio and an independent company to transport natural gas on the NCS. "Today's management model for the SDFI has functioned satisfactorily since it was established in 1985," Sandal noted. "The present management model contains a number of positive features, which we have decided to retain." The proposed state-owned SDFI management firm would serve its purpose "without possessing all the expertise of a traditional oil company," Sandal explained. She added that the company would not apply for licenses on its own account and would not be given operatorships. "Activities in which the company is involved will be functionally related to petroleum activities on the NCS," she said. The other company would "concentrate its activities on system operations, license administration, and overall supervision of the transport infrastructure on the NCS," Sandal said. The company, at least for the immediate future, would be owned by the state "until a durable form of ownership has been found for the Norwegian pipeline system," she said.