COPENHAGEN, June 1 Norwegian oil and gas group
Statoil (STL.OL) said on Tuesday it was preparing to stop
drilling at two deepwater Gulf of Mexico prospects to comply
with a temporary stoppage ordered by the U.S. government.
Washington last week ordered a temporary halt to 33
exploration rigs as part of a broader response to the BP (BP.L)
oil spill, casting a shadow over companies' efforts to tap new
petroleum resources off the coast of the United States.
Statoil will stop drilling at its Krakatoa prospect in the
Mississippi Canyon and at its Tucker prospect in the Walker
Ridge area in the Gulf, a Statoil official said.
"These are the two where we are the operator, and we will
have to temporarily halt the drilling after first drilling down
to a level where it is safe to stop," Statoil spokeswoman
Kjersti Morstoel said.
"We have a dialogue with the U.S. authorities to decide how
and when we can do this, and it is too early to say how long it
will take," she said.
How far down to drill before it is safe to stop depends from
well to well, she added.
Transocean's (RIG.N) drillship Discoverer Americas is
working for Statoil on Krakatoa and Danish shipping and oil
group A.P. Moller-Maersk's (MAERSKb.CO) Maersk Developer
semi-submersible rig is drilling on Tucker, Morstoel said.
Morstoel declined to estimate the financial impact or to say
who would bear the cost of such a stoppage -- Statoil as the
charterer of the rigs or the rig owners.
"We are in a dialogue with all parties on those matters,"
A Maersk spokeswoman said the four-year charter for its rig
remains in effect despite the stoppage.
Statoil also has stakes in other deepwater Gulf of Mexico
exploration projects where it is not the operator, but Morstoel
said Statoil would leave it to the operators of those projects
to communicate about them.
(Reporting by John Acher; additional reporting by Gwladys
Fouche in Oslo; editing by James Jukwey)