* Says Statoil-Rosneft cooperation unaffected by sanctions
* Sverdrup field will not be delayed by plan to use power
By Ron Bousso
LONDON, May 26 Europe's development of new
sources of gas, away from dependence on Russian flows via
Ukraine, means security of supply "has never been better", the
chief financial officer of Statoil said, even as tensions over
Ukraine revive fears of a cut-off.
CFO Torgrim Reitan also told Reuters in an interview on
Monday that Statoil's cooperation with top Russian oil producer
Rosneft has so far been unaffected by the several
rounds of recent U.S. and European sanctions on Russian
companies and executives over Moscow's involvement in Ukraine.
While Europe's dependence on Russian gas has risen to one
third from about one quarter five years ago, a growing network
of pipelines and a series of new liquid natural gas (LNG) import
terminals are set to significantly increase Europe's sources of
supply in the coming years.
"Energy security for gas has never been better," Reitan
said. Statoil is the second-largest European gas supplier after
Russia at about a fifth.
Around half of Russia's gas supply to Europe currently goes
via pipelines through Ukraine, but Europe is set to connect with
several new sources in the coming years.
Statoil has a stake in Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz II gas
project, which is expected to bring gas into Europe towards the
end of the decade.
Both Poland and Lithuania are planning to start operating
new LNG import terminals early next year, reducing their
dependence on Russia. Estonia and Finland also are planning LNG
terminals towards the end of the decade.
And Russia can today bypass Ukraine to supply gas to Europe,
its biggest buyer, via the Northstream pipeline, which went
online in 2011. Southstream, which will supply gas into Europe
from Russia through the Black Sea is expected to go online of
the end of the decade.
"We now have a liquid market on the continent, and that
provides energy security. That clears the prices," Reitan said.
"There have been investments in reverse flows, so you can
get gas from west to east, and there are multiple sources. There
is Norwegian gas; there is Russian gas from various pipelines;
there is Azeri gas; there is North African gas and LNG re-gas
capacity in several places," he added.
Even though Moscow cut gas flows via Ukraine in the winters
of 2006 and 2009 due to price disputes with Kiev, which affected
Europe, Reitan described Russia as a "trustworthy" supplier.
Russia is now demanding that Ukraine pay at least $2.2
billion of a gas debt of $3.5 billion.
"There has always been a geo-political twist to the gas
market in Europe. But Russian supplies have been stable and very
trustworthy for many decades, even if some of the geo-political
issues have gone up and down," Reitan said.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
From Statoil's perspective, the western sanctions on Russian
companies and close allies of President Vladimir Putin,
including the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin, have had no impact,
Statoil has several joint projects with Rosneft, including
deals to explore for oil and gas in Siberia and above the Arctic
Circle, as well as shale oil in the south of the country.
"We have a long-term relationship with Russia companies,
we've been there for 20 years. We have been working well with
Rosneft on the joint venture ... We will comply with sanctions,
but progress is (going) well in our relationship with Rosneft,"
The CFO also said that Norway's plan to require oil firms
operating in the Utsira High area of the North Sea to obtain
hydropower from shore in order to keep down carbon emissions
would not delay Statoil's giant $20 billion Johan Sverdrup field
"It is commercially sensible to use electricity. The concept
we have chosen is based on the full electrification of Johann
Sverdrup from day one ... I think it is fair to say that is in
all interests to see that it is not delayed and, I do not think
that will happen," he said.
The Johan Sverdrup field is scheduled to come on stream at
the end of 2019 to produce up to 2.9 billion barrels of oil in
(editing by Jane Baird)