* Bids $44.5 mln for 13 licences in U.S. Gulf of Mexico
* Says "resets" exploration campaign offshore U.S.
* Wins six licences, including five operated, in UK
(Combines British, U.S. strands)
OSLO, March 23 Norway's Statoil was the
second top bidder for 13 oil exploration leases in the U.S. Gulf
of Mexico and won six licences offshore Britain, it said on
Thursday, in a sign it may be looking to boost reserves after
"The importance of oil companies' ability to replenish
reserves after several years of spending cuts is increasing as
oil prices stabilize, brokerage RBC Capital Markets said in a
note on Thursday."
Statoil bid a total of $44.5 million for 13 licences in the
U.S. Gulf of Mexico, coming second only to Shell and
ahead of Hess Corp, Chevron and Exxon,
the latest auction results showed.
The company said in a separate statement it had won five new
operated licences in the northern North Sea and one in the
frontier area west of Scotland, committing to drill at least
Statoil said its bids for licences in the U.S. Gulf of
Mexico meant that the company was "resetting" its exploration
campaign there, two months after saying it was considering
whether to end it due to poor results.
"We continue to believe in the potential of the Gulf of
Mexico," Statoil's Tore Loeseth, head of exploration in the U.S.
and Mexico, said in a statement.
Statoil's spokesman said the company believed it could be
more successful based on the analysis of the seismic data and
the lessons from the previous drilling.
The U.S. auctions results are subject to a 90-days formal
review and final approval, with no commitment to drill.
Statoil, however, would have to hand back its licences if it
fails to spud wells in 5-10 years, depending on water depths.
The company expected its offshore U.S. production to nearly
double by 2020 from about 60,000 barrels per day in 2016.
The tender in Britain, which received bids last year,
attracted the lowest interest in 14 years, reflecting the drop
in appetite for finding new oil in the North Sea due to high
costs and weak oil prices.
Brent crude price were trading at over $50 a barrel
most of the time in 2017, up from over $40 a barrel in 2016.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing Terje Solsvik and