Statoil to sell £2bn stake in gas pipeline

City A.M. Reporter
NORWEGIAN energy giant Statoil has agreed to sell a 24.1 per cent stake in a key European natural gas transport venture to a group including German insurer Allianz and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority for 17.35bn crowns (£2bn).

Statoil will retain a five per cent stake in Gassled, the owner of gas pipelines on the Norwegian shelf, which last year piped about 100bn cubic metres of gas to Britain, Germany, Belgium and France.

That amounts to some 16 to 17 per cent of European Union annual gas consumption and is second in size only to Russian imports.

Last year ExxonMobil sold its eight per cent Gassled stake to an infrastructure fund, as oil firms shed non-core assets and allow financial investors to tap into the steady margins of the European energy infrastructure business.

The buyer of Statoil’s stake is Solveig Gas Norway, a holding 45 per cent owned by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and 30 per cent by Allianz Capital Partners, a subsidiary of Europe’s biggest insurer Allianz.

The remaining 25 per cent is held by Infinity Investments, a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The deal still needs approval from Norwegian authorities.

“This transaction contributes to a further streamlining of Statoil’s portfolio,” said Eldar Saetre, Statoil’s executive vice president.

Carnegie analyst John Olaisen said the move was “positive” for the company, and the price was in line with what ExxonMobil received a year ago.