French oil company Total has become the latest foreign firm to cut back in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Norway’s state-controlled oil company Statoil is taking over Total’s ownership stakes in the troubled Martin Linge project and the Garantiana oil discovery.
“We have concluded that we can handle the risks that lie in the cost estimates we now have,” Arne Sigve Nylund, Statoil’s head of operations in Norway, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) after Total’s sale of 51 percent of the licenses for Martin Linge and 40 percent of the license for Garantiana was announced on Monday. Statoil already owns 19 percent of Martin Linge and is paying USD 1.45 billion for both licenses.
DN called Martin Linge a “nightmare project” because of fatal accidents, delays and cost overruns. Total had estimated it would start up during the first half of 2019. Nylund wouldn’t comment on plans for the field until its purchase of Total’s stake is complete. Statoil also intends to take over as operator. The field is expected to yield 300 million barrels of oil, while Garantiana can yield up to 70 million barrels.
Martin Linge and Garantiana have been Total’s most important projects on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. It will now continue as a partner in fields without operating responsibility.