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Norwegian oil exploring giant Statoil ASA (STO - Analyst Report) has divested 25% of its working interest in the exploration license, offshore Mozambique, to Japan-based INPEX Mozambique Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of INPEX Corporation.

Statoil is the operator of the license which includes two blocks under one license agreement. The blocks rest in a frontier area in water depths ranging between 300 meters and 2,500 meters. Spread over an area of 8,041 square kilometers, the license is located in areas 2 and 5 offshore Mozambique in the Rovuma basin. The company plans to spud the first well in the license during the second quarter using the drillship Discoverer Americas.

Statoil will retain the operatorship of the block upon the completion of farm-in and will hold a 40% participating interest. Other partners include INPEX Mozambique, Ltd., Tullow Mozambique Limited, a subsidiary of Tullow Oil and the Mozambican state oil company – Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos, E.P. – holding 25%, 25% and 10%, respectively.

The commercial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed and require approval from the Mozambican government. Statoil’s operation in Mozambique is in sync with its exploration strategy, which concentrates on an early entry into prolific regions. The company’s strategy will help it to achieve its aim of enhancing production to 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2020.

Discovery forms an integral part of growth for Statoil. Further, these discoveries confirm Statoil’s advantageous position in the world’s fastest growing gas hub of East Africa. The Geological Survey has projected Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar and the Seychelles to hold about 441 Tcf of gas. The latest sale demonstrates the attractive prospects of Statoil's acreage in the region and at the same time facilitates risk-sharing while holding a considerable working interest in the Mozambique area.

Statoil holds a Zacks Rank #2 (short-term Buy). However, there are other stocks in the energy sector, namely, Range Resources Corporation , NGL Energy Partners LP (NGL - Snapshot Report) and Calumet Speciality Products Partners LP (CLMT - Snapshot Report) that are expected to perform impressively over the next few months. Range Resources and EPL carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while YPF carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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