State to part with 20 percent of oil wealth

Before its listing on the Olso Stock Exchange next year Statoil will get the chance to buy 15 percent of the state's directly owned petroleum resources.

Under a formal government proposal that appears to have parliamentary support, an additional 5 percent of those resources will be offered to Norsk Hydro and the international oil companies. While Norsk Hydro fears such a distribution will relegate it to "little brother" status in Norway, Statoil is not satisfied either. It had hoped to gain access to all or most of the state's diverse resources, which are combined under the title of the State's Direct Financial Interest (SDFI). The oil and gas reserves that the state will retain - worth an estimated USD 26 billion (NOK 240 billion) to USD 43 billion (NOK 400 billion) - are to be managed by a newly established state-owned oil company based in Stavanger. The government's package of proposals appears to have support from a solid majority of the Parliament, Aftenposten reported.