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Statoil Exploration to Focus on Africa, Norway in 2014

Source: Reuters 11/25/2013, Location: Africa

Norwegian oil major Statoil expects to keep exploration spending close to this year's record level in 2014, even as some peers rein in investment to save cash for dividends and to combat rising costs. Statoil will focus exploration on Norway, the Gulf of Mexico, Angola and Tanzania, and will also move deeper into the Arctic with wells in the Faroe Islands, exploration chief Tim Dodson told Reuters.

"Next year you can expect about the same level of activity we had this year and the same amount spent, more or less," Dodson said on the sidelines of a conference. "Maybe not quite as many wells, but because of Angola, there will be a few more expensive wells next year."

State-controlled Statoil plans to spend about $3.75 billion on exploration this year, a record amount for the firm, and above the $3.5 billion it targeted at the start of the year.

The firm has been one of the most successful offshore explorers in recent year with big finds in Norway, Brazil, Canada and Tanzania, and this year it has discovered more resources than any other offshore energy firm.

"There will be a big tick up in (exploration in) Angola next year, continued drilling in Tanzania, ... one or two wells in the Gulf of Mexico, two wells the Faroes and one well in the UK probably," Dodson said.

In Canada, where Statoil made several big discoveries this year, the firm is struggling to secure appropriate rig capacity for further drilling next year so its return may be pushed into 2015.

In Tanzania, where Statoil discovered enough gas to move ahead with a liquefied natural gas project, exploration will continue and about half of its wells there will be exploration and half appraisal, Dodson said.

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