* Find may be in lower half of estimates in Lundin's licence
* Whole field seen holding 1.7-3.3 bln barrels
* Det norske may provide update on Feb. 15
* Lundin shares down 9.2 percent
(Adds Det norske comment, share reaction, analyst)
By Balazs Koranyi and Joachim Dagenborg
OSLO, Feb 11 The Johan Sverdrup oil field
offshore Norway may contain less oil than previously expected,
Swedish group Lundin Petroleum said, hitting the
shares of firms with an interest.
Sverdrup, previously thought to contain up to 3.3 billion
barrels of oil, is the biggest North Sea find in decades. Its
operators - Lundin and Norwegian group Statoil have
been drilling appraisal wells to narrow their estimates.
Lundin chief executive Ashley Heppenstall said on Monday the
latest test drilling meant the "most likely mid-case for the
Johan Sverdrup resources located in production licence 501 will
be within the lower half of the previously guided 800-1,800
million barrels of oil equivalent range. We also believe that
the resource calculation range remains wide."
The field lies in two licences with the half operated by
Lundin estimated to hold between 800 million barrels and 1.8
billion while Statoil's half was seen holding between 900
million barrels and 1.5 billion.
Hopes have been high as an initial appraisal indicated the
field may be in the upper part of estimates, while an additional
find in the Geitungen prospect last year was seen adding to the
Lundin shares were down 8.6 percent at 1230 GMT, while
Norwegian group Det norske, a shareholder in the
other licence that forms the field, fell 3.7 percent.
Statoil has said it expected to update the total reserve
estimate in the fourth quarter this year, at the latest.
"They (Statoil) hesitate a little. We just have to wait and
see what they say," Det norske CEO Erik Haugane said.
"Information that is important to get out to the market is
piling up. So, it is possible we also provide some numbers at
our quarterly presentation. But you won't get the real numbers
until Statoil comes out of the closet."
Det norske will publish quarterly figures on Feb. 15.
Statoil declined to comment.
Analysts said Lundin's comment meant market forecasts would
be cut. "The most likely number for Lundin's licence is 1.0
billion to 1.1 billion barrels. But there is still considerable
uncertainty," said Morten Lindbaeck, an analyst at Fondfinans.
"I interpret this as Statoil and the Norwegian Petroleum
Directorate having told Lundin to be more sober (in their
Arctic Securities analyst Trond Omdal said he had cut his
estimate for the Lundin-operated side of the field to 1 billion
of barrels of oil equivalent (boe) from 1.3 billion.
In the licence operated by Lundin, Statoil and Lundin each
hold 40 percent while Danish company Maersk has 20
percent. In the licence operated by Statoil, state-holding firm
Petoro holds a 30 percent stake, Det norske 20 percent, Lundin
10 percent, and Statoil 40 percent.
(Additional reporting by Henrik Stolen; Writing by Victoria
Klesty; Editing by Dan Lalor and Mark Potter)