Statoil says Norwegian parliament supports privatization plan

Olav Fjell, CEO of Statoil AS, said he is encouraged by a compromise reached Wednesday by a majority of Norway�s parliament, the Storting, which opens the way for a partial privatization of Statoil. A top-to-bottom restructuring of Statoil that started 3 years ago is on track to be completed by yearend.


By the OGJ Online Staff


HOUSTON, Mar. 29�Olav Fjell, CEO of Statoil AS, said he is encouraged by a compromise reached Wednesday by a majority of the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, which opens the way for a partial privatization of Statoil.

The Conservatives, the Christian People's Party, the Liberals, and the ruling Labour Party agreed on the main legislative points regarding ownership of Statoil and future management of the state's direct financial interest (SDFI).

The compromise involves selling up to a third of Statoil's shares to private investors, with 15-25% being sold through the IPO. Meanwhile, Statoil would have the opportunity to acquire 15% of SDFI's assets. Norsk Hydro AS, Norway�s second largest oil company, and other companies can buy up to 6.5%.

"We're gratified that a broad majority is in favor of our stock market listing," Fjell said. "This will give us increased strength and leverage."

He also noted that a Storting standing committee on energy and the environment is following a timetable to submit its recommendation by Apr. 4.

Statoil launched a top-to-bottom restructuring 3 years ago that is on track to be completed by yearend (OGJ, Mar. 5, 2001, p. 36). Fjell said Wednesday his company is on schedule with its necessary preparations for an anticipated initial public offering of Statoil shares in June.

Fjell said, "We're also looking forward to clarifying which SDFI assets we'll be allowed to buy. These will strengthen us substantially, allowing us to develop our core areas off Norway and reinforce our gas position."

He said a majority of the Storting has also accepted the government's proposal to establish an independent company to transport Norwegian gas. Statoil executives say this would result in Statoil losing responsibilities and would weaken the company (OGJ Online, Jan. 16, 2001).

"I register that the Storting has opted not to follow our advice on this issue," Fjell said. Statoil's role will be to contribute to the continued efficiency of Norwegian gas transport, he said.

As a co-owner, Statoil will make a commitment to further development of gas treatment facilities of Stavanger as a cornerstone in Norway's gas exports.

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