Statoil (NYSE: STO ) has hit the ground running in 2012. Just shy of one month into the year, the Norwegian oil company has made several announcements ranging from global exploration deals to improved reserve estimates closer to home. Below is a breakdown of the company's most recent announcements.
Go, speed racer!
The Norwegian government has given Statoil permission to fast-track oil and gas production plans in the Norwegian Sea's Skuld field. "Fast-track" essentially means Statoil approaching each field differently, and adjusting equipment deployment to maximize efficiency. Best-case scenario, the projects drop from an average of five years to two-and-a-half years.
The Skuld field is Statoil's fifth and largest fast-track project. Expected to come online by 2013, the field contains an estimated 90 million barrels of oil equivalent. The reserves are thought to be primarily oil. Statoil is the operator in this field, joined by Norway's Petoro with a 24.5% stake and Italy's Eni (NYSE: E ) with an 11.5% stake.
Exploring offshore Canada
Statoil signed an agreement with Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) to explore Canada's Beaufort Sea, the body of water located north of the Yukon Territory but not quite as far north as the Arctic Sea. The two companies will begin a 3-D seismic program together, tentatively scheduled for this summer. Chevron will be the operator of the project and hold a 60% interest; Statoil will hold the remaining 40%.
Arguably as important a development as new discoveries, Statoil has recently increased reserve estimates and utilized technology to improve recovery. The company estimates that out of the 560 million barrels of oil equivalent produced on the Norwegian continental shelf last year, 420 million BOE were produced due solely to improved recovery practices.
Additionally, at the end of last week Statoil announced that it was increasing its estimate for gas reserves in the Snohvit field by 125 million BOE. Snohvit is the first gas development in the Barents Sea. Petoro and Total (NYSE: TOT ) are also partners in the field.
A questionable move?
Statoil bought a 31% stake in Cairn Energy's Baffin Bay play off Greenland. After investing two years and $1.2 billion in drilling costs, Cairn was unable to produce commercially viable amounts of oil. Statoil is considered to be one of the better arctic drillers, and this partnership will certainly test its mettle.
Statoil will be an interesting company to watch throughout 2012. But it is not alone -- oil companies are busy beasts! Investors looking to stay on top of industry insight and company-specific updates and analysis should consider utilizing Internet-based tools like Twitter and My Watchlist to stay on top of it all.