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Maersk Oil CEO: "Details came out in our favor"

Maersk Oil CEO Jakob Thomasen is "all in all" fairly satisfied with the distribution of values in the Johan Sverdrup field in Norway, and he points to several positive details for Maersk in the temporary agreement. Now Norwegian officials will decide whether the company gets to keep its current share of the field.

Photo: Tom Ingvardsen

The glass is half full for Maersk Oil CEO Jakob Thomasen who today, Friday, submitted a temporary development plan for the Johan Sverdrup field to Norway's Minister for Oil and Energy.

In spite of the significant dispute between the five license partners as well as a non-finalized agreement, the parties achieved a good result, says Thomasen.

"All in all we're pleased. We've secured an ownership stake of 8.12 percent in the field, and that's more or less in line with expectations, while several underlying details in the agreement also came out in our favor," he says.

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A total of five oil companies, Maersk Oil, Sweden's Lundin and Norwegian Petoro, Det Norske Oljeselskap and Statoil, have spent the past days in open dispute about the distribution of values based on the numerous licenses that will, as part of the development plan, be combined into one.

The details in the agreement that Jakob Thomasen is pleased with have not previously been made public in media covering the dispute between the oil companies.

The Maersk Oil CEO declines to mention specific details when asked.

"We've agreed to make the percentage distribution public. But I can't comment on the more specific details of the agreement," he says, explaining that more information could be made public "in due time."

Stopgap solution

The negotiations between the five oil companies escalated to such dramatic heights earlier this week that there were speculations about whether the parties would be able to agree on a plan. If the parties failed to reach agreement, the worst case scenario would see the plans to produce oil from Johan Sverdrup pushed back a full year.

Sverdrup partners fail to reach permanent agreement

This would be a political stinker in Norway, as the state expects to receive a significant part of the projected proceeds of up to USD 176 billion. And this would also hurt the oil companies, which stand to make money on the Sverdrup oil even when the market price is down.

Even though the partners have now presented a plan to the Minister for Oil and Energy, Tord Lien, the oil companies were unable to agree on a solution.

Norwegian oil company Det Norske Oljeselskap refused to sign the agreement, claiming that the other partners in the field will get outsize ownership stakes.

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As such, Norwegian officials will now decide the final ownership distribution for the oil companies in the license - this is an unprecedented event in Norway, but it does not make Jakob Thomasen worry about the final outcome.

"We've been working together with some of these people up until this point, and they're very talented and experienced. So I think everything will be done completely by the book."

What experience are you referring to, as there has never been a situation like this before?

"No, I believe this is the first time this has happened in Norway. But I'm still fairly confident that they'll find a solid solution," says Jakob Thomasen.

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