Det norske share issue "inevitable," Aker boss says

OSLO Thu May 15, 2014 1:43am EDT

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OSLO May 15 (Reuters) - A share issue at Norwegian oil and gas firm Det norske is inevitable and the firm could also leverage its stake in the Johan Sverdrup oil field, the head Aker ASA, its biggest shareholder said on Thursday.

Det norske is spending heavily to bring its Ivar Aasen project on stream and it will also have to pick up part of the 100 billion to 120 billion crown cost ($16.9 billion - $20.3 billion) of Sverdrup's initial phase.

"An equity issue will be inevitable sooner or later and in Aker's opinion, it should be open to all shareholders," said Oeyvind Eriksen, the Chief Executive of Aker, which holds 50 percent of Det norske. "The objective is to have a solid financing strategy in place by year-end."

"The unique quality of the Johan Sverdrup asset is such that it offers considerable optionality in terms of financing and lends itself to a variety of credit structures," Eriksen said.

Sverdrup, the biggest North Sea find in decades, contains up to 2.9 billion barrels of oil equivalents and will come onstream by the end of 2019.

Statoil operates the field while Det norske holds a 20 percent stake in one of its production licences.

"In our view, Det norske should actively manage the assets in its portfolio as a potential funding source and seek to utilise the company's tax loss carry forward generated from its significant capital expenditures," Eriksen added. (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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