Statoil presents plan for developing Alve natural gas field in Norwegian Sea

State-controlled oil company Statoil ASA on Tuesday presented its 2.4 billion kroner (US$375 million, Ђ285 million) plan for developing the natural gas field Alve in the Norwegian Sea for government approval.

The field has estimated reserves of 6.78 billion square meters (240 billion cubic feet) of natural gas and 8.3 million oil equivalent barrels of condensate. If approved, it is slated to go on stream in December 2008.

Although relatively small, the field can be exploited by tying its well systems into a nearby existing Statoil field, called Norne, where production is handled by a specially built ship.

The proposal is in keeping with a Norwegian government policy to use existing infrastructure for production from small finds, in hopes of maintaining production that makes Norway the world's third largest oil, as well as natural gas, exporter.

Oil Minister Odd Roger Enoksen said it was "extremely positive" that Statoil and its project partners wanted to develop the field.

"The development is a good example of profitable, small developments that use existing infrastructure," he said of the plan, which he said would be handled by Parliament during the current quarter, reports AP.

The government hopes that developing such smaller finds, as well as pushing the search for oil farther north into the Arctic, will help offset declining flows after more than three decades of offshore production.

Jostein Gaasemyr, Statoil's vice president of operations for the field, said the project presented a good way for using available processing capacity and pipeline transport at Norne.

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