Cooling The Fire
Norway, which is enjoying one of the best economies in the world, has decided to take unprecedented action in order to maintain a healthy growth for the long term, econ- and avoid some of the economic potholes inherent in an overheated economy.
Specifically, the country's petroleum and energy minister, Marit Arnstad, has issued a proposal to delay 12 specific oil and gas projects to dampen offshore activity in Norway. "There are big dangers that the economy will overheat," Arnstad reported to the Norwegian parliament, adding that the delays would cool t he economy. While some may deem the move unusual, it has received the blessings, at least publicly, of Statoil. Statoil's approval came from executive Vice President Stig Bergseth after the government made it clear that it wants to postpone investment in all fields under development from 1998 to 1999. The Norwegian authorities are reportedly acting because spending estimates for the current year based on operator plans — total approximately $8.8 billion — an increase of more than $1.7 billion. Given the heavy pressures on the Norwegian economy at present, the centrist coalition takes a serious view of this expansion, and the postponement is designed to significantly reduce capital spending both this year and next. Mr.
Bergseth said that Statoil as operator and commercial player has also noted pressure on costs and capacity constraints in the supplies industry. "The proposed delay will give us more time to work on costs and find the best solutions. We'll be reducing investment in projects to a minimum during 1998 while seeking to continue building on the planning and tendering work done so far." Postponements have been proposed by the petroleum ministry for Statoil's Gullfaks satellites phase II, Huldra and Heidrun North as well as Yme Beta West and Epsilon. In addition comes Sygna, which straddles Statoiloperated PL 037 and Saga's PL 089 in the North Sea. Negotiations are under way on a unitized development, and the operatorship will not be clarified until a deal has been struck and the authorities have approved a plan for development and operation. The ministry's proposals also affect Saga's Snorre B, H-Central and Southern Triangle Upper Jurassic (Stuj) projects, Hydro's Fram and Grane fields, Amoco's Valhall water injection scheme and BP's Ula Triassic