MOL to expand North Sea portfolio

Telco

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL is bidding for a further five exploration licenses in the North Sea and will obtain part-ownership in another three licenses through an agreement with a Norwegian oil company, in a move that will expand its off-shore portfolio of 14 licenses, Lars Thorrud, managing director of MOLʼs Norwegian subsidiary told Hungarian news agency MTI today.

By winning one or several "drill or drop" licenses, MOL could explore the given area for two years and would be able to carry out further drillings in the event of a successful find, Thorrud said. The result of the tender will be revealed in January 2016, he added.

MOL completed the purchase of 100% of Ithaca Petroleum Norge (IPN) in July from Ithaca Petroleum Ltd., acquiring 600 million barrels worth of geological assets mainly containing petroleum, doubling its exploration portfolio. The unit, active in the upstream business only, now bears the name Mol Norge.

The subsidiary estimates that the North Sea holds explorable reserves of at least 50 billion barrels although the managing director emphasized that it is very difficult to accurately estimate a regionʼs potential.

If an oil company does not find oil, the Norwegian state will refund 78% of the investment costs within one year. Whereas in the event of a commercial find and its exploration, the company must pay 78% of its revenue from selling the oil to the Norwegian government in the form of tax, the managing director added. Even under these conditions, there are around 50 oil companies on the Norwegian market, more than twice as many as twenty years ago, Thorrud said. He said he also considers it promising that this year, crude oil production has grown again in Norway, for the first time in several years.

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