Norway, Britain target savings of two billion dollars in oil ops

STAVANGER, Norway, Aug 28 (AFP) - Britain and Norway aim to generate savings of two billion dollars (2.04 billion euros) by 2010 through closer cooperation in the offshore oil sector, their energy ministers said Wednesday. A joint statement released during a petrol industry conference in Stavanger, southwestern Norway, said the two countries would realise savings in capital investments, lower operating and decommissioning costs, and through accelerated development of North Sea resources. Norway, the third-largest oil exporter in the world, and Britain share most of the North Sea's vast oil and gas resources. "It is in our common interest to make sure our oil and gas sectors exploit the North Sea to its full potential, and overcome real or perceived barriers to achieving this, with due consideration to environmental issues," Norwegian Oil Minister Einar Steensnaes and his British counterpart Brian Wilson said. Britain and Norway will study recommendations on the subject, "and use them as a basis for taking closer co-operation forward to increase prosperity and create more jobs," they added. A crucial aspect of future cooperation is the export of Norwegian natural gas to Britain, which is expected to become a net importer around 2005. In June, the semi-public Norwegian oil company Statoil signed a contract to supply British Gas Trading, a subsidiary of British energy distribution group Centrica PLC, with five billion cubic meters of natural gas a year for 10 years. The total value of the order was estimated by Norwegian media to be worth between 35 and 50 billion kroner (4.74-6.77 billion euros, 4.66-6.65 billion dollars). In June 2001, Statoil signed a contract with British Petroleum for an annual supply of 1.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas over 15 years. phy/wai/