Oil scandal unfolds in Oslo

Oslo: Norway’s biggest opposition party, Abeiderpartiet, and others are seeking an explanation of what really happened during the final part of negotiations regarding the distribution of Norway’s largest oil field, Johan Sverdrup.

Five holding companies were fighting for stakes in Norway’s newest large oil field earlier this month. The companies involved where Petoro, Statoil, Norwegian, Lundin and Maersk. Statoil became the largest owner with a 40 % stake.

Weeks after the division the battle continues to hit headlines.

Dagens Næringsliv writes in its Saturday edition that state-owned oil company Petoro took a U-turn hours before the decision was due on February 13,  and accepted a proposal it had initially strongly opposed. The deal was struck after two secret meetings between the minister of oil and energy, Tord Lien, and top leaders in Petoro.

There have been major disagreements between the oil companies after it became clear that three licenses were merged into one. Petoro constantly insisted that the present solution, where Petoro gets a stake of 17.84 % was not good enough.

Just hours before the deadline for agreement went out, the company made a U-turn insisting on a 19.8 %  stake.

According to the newspaper this percentage difference amounted to about NOK2bn after tax.

Johan Sverdrup is expected to produce 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day at its peak, providing a quarter of Norwegian production by 2025. It will be worth $40bn to the Norwegian government and production is expected to start in 2019.


Hans Thaulow

Hans Henrik Thaulow is an Oslo-based journalist who has been covering the shipping industry for the last 15 years. As well as some work for the Informa Group, Hans was the China correspondent for TradeWinds. He also contributes to Maritime CEO magazine. Hans’ shipping background extends to working as a shipbroker trainee with Simpson, Spence & Young in Hong Kong.
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