StatoilHydro eyes Australia gas projects

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Norway’s StatoilHydro is eyeing equity stakes in Australian natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) developments to boost its Asia Pacific business, a senior company official said on Thursday. 

StatoilHydro’s reserve replacement ratio tumbled to 34 percent in 2008, it said last week, showing shrinking business prospects for the third-year running and confirming its need for more acquisitions abroad to compensate for dropping output from its core North Sea oil fields.

“We hope to secure equity in upstream and LNG projects… that would be a cornerstone in our Asia Pacific strategy,” Nils Helge Sorgard, vice president for international exploration and production, Asia and Oceania, said at the 14th Asia Upstream conference in Singapore.
He said StatoilHydro, Europe’s sixth-largest energy company by stock market value, is looking at offshore assets in northwest Australia and not inland projects at the east of the continent. 

“We’re looking for a wide range of places but as an offshore-based company, we focus on the North West Shelf rather than Eastern Australia,” he said. 

“We are intrigued by the dynamics of the Carnarvon basin. There are also some longer-term opportunities in the Bonaparte basin further north.” 

Northwest Australia is home to the country’s biggest LNG venture, the North West Shelf (NWS) project operated by Woodside Petroleum Ltd. 

The region has also attracted Chevron Corp, which has proposed to build the 15 million tonnes per year (tpy) Gorgon LNG project and another 25 million tpy Wheatstone project. 

To boost its resource base, StatoilHydro bought this year U.S. shale gas assets and gained acreage off Brazil, Alaska, in the Gulf of Mexico, Canada and the Faroe Islands. 

Chief Executive Helge Lund said during the Feb. 17 fourth quarter results briefing that the company’s “strong balance sheet and active cost management” would allow it to pursue its long-term ambitions of maximising output from its Norwegian operations and growing internationally. 

StatoilHydro kept its 2009 capital expenditure guidance of about $13.5 billion and exploration spending of $2.7 billion. 

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