Oil & Energy Minister Tord Lien called the oil companies that own stakes in the giant Johan Sverdrup oil and gas field into a meeting this week, in an effort to settle disagreement over how their ownership has been divvied up.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reports that the five companies (Statoil, Lundin, Petoro, Det norske oljeselskap and Maersk) are still quarreling over the values of their allotted stakes, three weeks after they nonetheless managed to present a development plan for the Sverdrup field and its enormous oil and gas resources. Petoro, which represents the state’s own direct ownership of the field, and Det norske were unhappy with the size of their stakes and Det norske still is, demanding that Lien completely reevaluate ownership shares.
Petoro withdrew its objections just before the ceremonial presentation of the development plan in February, and just after Petoro’s leader was called into a meeting with Lien. That meeting is now under scrutiny, with questions being raised over whether Lien prodded Petoro into settling for its stake in the interests of moving the huge project forward. Petoro, like Det norske, had been concerned that its assigned stake did not reflect fair value. Unlike Det norske, state-owned Petoro is charged with obtaining the greatest value for the Norwegian people.
Wednesday’s meeting this week was mostly about how the process will move forward now. Lien’s ministry must now settle the dispute in order to prevent delays of the field’s development. Lien didn’t attend the meeting himself, although he’ll be responsible for the final division of ownership. If Det norske still objects, legal challenges are expected.