CERAWEEK-St. Malo strengthens Statoil confidence in US Gulf

Tue Mar 9, 2010 8:04pm EST

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* Ultradeep project spurs confidence in Gulf of Mexico

* Statoil ups stake in St. Malo

HOUSTON, March 9 (Reuters) - The ultradeep St. Malo project has strengthened Statoil's (STL.OL) confidence in its decision to invest in offshore Gulf of Mexico projects, Statoil's Chief Executive Helge Lund said on Tuesday.

"A few years ago we decided to increase our activities in the Gulf of Mexico," Lund told Reuters in an interview. "St. Malo has really strengthened our confidence."

Statoil said on Tuesday it has upped its interest in the deepwater St. Malo field in the Gulf to 21.5 percent by exercising its preemption rights and breaking up a sale partner Devon Energy (DVN.N) had planned to make to Maersk (MAERSKb.CO) [ID:nOSN004304]

St. Malo is operated by Chevron Corp (CVX.N) and is expected to come on line in 2014 along with the Jack field. Both are developments in the lower tertiary trend of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico -- a geological formation seen as a potential source of significant new supplies in the offshore fields.

Statoil is the third largest leaseholder in these ultradeep waters, which include an additional two discoveries. Statoil is also currently engaged in two deepwater Gulf of Mexico drilling operations. (Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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