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Statoil (STO) Transfers Polarled Operatorship to Gassco

Zacks Equity Research

Statoil ASA STO recently announced that it transferred the operatorship for the Polarled pipeline to Gassco on May 1.

The pipeline, which runs between the Aasta Hansteen field in the Norwegian Sea and Nyhamna in More og Romsdal, is 482 kilometers long. Work on the pipeline was completed for NOK 4.5 billion below budget.

Polarled is the first subsea pipeline intersecting the Arctic circle on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). It is expected to open up a brand new path for the transportation of Norwegian gas to the markets in the U.K. and Europe. The gas transportation capacity of Polarled is about 70 million cubic meters per day.

In Mar 2015, the pipe laying commenced at Nyhamna. The last pipe joint was installed at the Aasta Hansteen field in the Norwegian Sea in Sep 2015.

Initially, the investment budget for the pipeline project was estimated at about NOK 11 billion. The amount, however, was reduced by nearly 40% to NOK 6.5 billion at the time the pipeline was handed over to Gassco.

Linking Aasta Hansteen to Nyhamna via the Polarled pipeline now makes gas from this province accessible to the markets in the U.K. and even on the Continent. From Nyhamna the Langeled pipeline runs to England through the Sleipner hub, which is also linked to the transportation system exporting Norwegian gas to the Continent.

The pipeline has six tie-in points for new discoveries. Apart from Aasta Hansteen, Dvalin will be the first field to use Polarled. Statoil is now transferring the operatorship of the Polarled pipeline to Gassco along with the operatorship of the Polarled development project.

The Polarled project also comprises the upgrading of Nyhamna, which will be completed this year. Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS.A), the operator of Nyhamna, is responsible for this part of the project.

Polarled is expected to give leeway for gas export to Europe from an entirely new area and to strengthen the position of the NCS as a reliable long-term supplier. With the infrastructure in place, exploration and development of fields in the neighboring areas is also likely to become more attractive.

Investor confidence on the Statoil stock is reflected in its price chart. Shares of the company gained 6.5% in the last six months, while the Zacks categorized Oil & Gas – International Integrated industry registered an increase of 5% in the same time span.

Statoil currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Some better-ranked stocks from the same space are SunCoke Energy, Inc. SXC, Gran Tierra Energy Inc. GTE and Bellatrix Exploration Ltd. BXE. All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

SunCoke Energy posted a positive earnings surprise of 120.0% in the preceding quarter. The company beat estimates in two of the four trailing quarters with an average negative earnings surprise of 35.78%.

Gran Tierra Energy posted a positive earnings surprise of 105.88% in the year-ago quarter. It posted an average positive earnings surprise of 18.63% in the four trailing quarters.

Bellatrix Exploration posted a positive earnings surprise of 240.00% in the preceding quarter. It surpassed estimates in three of the four trailing quarters with an average positive earnings surprise of 58.54%.

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