Russian oil company LUKOIL has prequalified as an operator in Norway’s offshore oil zones, opening the door to licensing rounds which could add to the Russian oil company’s growing international portfolio.
“LUKOIL has been prequalified as an operator,” Mette Agerup, assistant director of the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, told a seminar on regulation in Moscow.
“Today there are no Russian (licenseholders) but maybe we will see LUKOIL among the licensees in the upcoming round next year,” she added.
Norway hands out a round of licenses in its mature producing areas each year, she said.
Russian oil companies, especially those without state participation and therefore barred from holding major licences to drill in Russia’s own Arctic waters, are expanding in foreign countries to help compensate for declining output in eastern Siberia.
TNK-BP, half owned by British major BP, has new operations in Vietnam, Venezuela and Brazil.
LUKOIL has been gradually building an upstream portfolio in Iraq and Africa, while also acquiring downstream stakes in Europe.
LUKOIL has said it is interested in a Norwegian venture, although it is not clear whether it intends to bid for licences on its own behalf. It has mentioned possible ventures with Norwegian oil company Statoil.
“We met with the president of Statoil and are in constant contact,” LUKOIL President Vagit Alekperov said last week. “We will look at what the government of Norway is offering. We are interested in projects in partnership with Statoil.”
Reporting by Melissa Akin (Reuters)
Source: Reuters, December 8, 2011