Statoil wins exploration licence off northeast Greenland

OSLO Sat Dec 21, 2013 6:23am EST

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OSLO Dec 21 (Reuters) - Statoil was awarded a licence to explore for oil in block 6 off northeast Greenland, in the Arctic Ocean, along with its partners ConocoPhillips and Nunaoil, the Norwegian company said late on Friday.

Statoil will be operator of the block and will hold a 52.5 percent stake. ConocoPhillips will have 35 percent and Greenland's national oil company, Nunaoil, will hold 12.5 percent, Statoil said in a statement.

Plans for oil exploration in sensitive Arctic areas, including offshore Greenland, have caused protests from environmentalist groups.

"We recognise that this is a challenging area ... Being in a frontier area, this licence is a long-term project for Statoil and the company will follow its stepwise approach, not going faster than technology allows," Runi M. Hansen, Statoil's country manager for Greenland and the Faroe Islands, said.

The exploration period of the licence runs for 16 years.

The government of Greenland, which has self-rule as part of the Kingdom of Denmark, says although risks remain in offshore drilling, modern technology means they are much lower than they were in the past.

Statoil is also partner in three licences - Anu, Napu and Pitu - in the Baffin Bay west of Greenland.

Some estimates put Greenland's offshore oil reserves at 20 billion barrels.

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