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Norwegian giant Statoil ASA (STO - Analyst Report) has been awarded interests in seven production licenses in the Barents Sea in the twenty-second licensing round on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).

Among the ownership gained in the seven licenses, Statoil will operate three. Statoil will operate PL713, PL714 and PL615B with ownership of 40%, 50% and 35%, respectively. The other permits include PL712, PL717, PL718 and PL720, in which Statoil has a share of 20% each.

PL713 is an attractive area, which offers opportunities to unlock a new geological play. PL714 lies adjoining to the Johan Castberg license from the north and is likely to hold additional resources for the Johan Castberg area development. Further resources are expected to contribute towards making the Johan Castberg development more profitable.

Located in the Hoop frontier area – PL615B – is close to PL615, where Statoil is projected to drill two exploration wells in 2014.

PL712 is in an appealing frontier, while PL717 is situated down the Johan Castberg trend, north of Johan Castberg. Located in the western part of the Barents Sea, licenses PL718 and PL720 remain unexplored.

These licenses, which were considered to be of high priority in this round, have solidified the company’s position in the region and formed a solid foundation for further growth in the future.

Moreover, Statoil’s close co-operation with Rosneft both in the Norwegian and the Russian parts of the Barents Sea will help in leveraging the combined experience of operating in frontier environments of both the companies. Statoil will also continue to work with Italian explorer, Eni SpA (E - Analyst Report) – its long-standing partner in the area.

Statoil carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). However, Zacks Ranked #1 (Strong Buy) stocks – Enerplus Corporation (ERF - Snapshot Report) and Gulfmark Offshore, Inc. (GLF - Snapshot Report) – are expected to perform impressively over the short term.

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