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Norway 2005 Oil Output Seen Dipping to 2.8 Million Bpd

OSLO - Norway's oil production is likely to slip to 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2005 but combined oil and gas output will hit a new record and peak in 2008, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Thursday.

Oil output by the world's number three exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia fell to 2.58 million bpd in December from 2.77 million in November, hit by closure of the 205,000 bpd Snorre and Vigdis fields after a gas leak on Nov. 28.

The state-run directorate said that Norway's total output of oil, gas and condensates edged up to record 263 million cubic metres of oil equivalents in 2004 from 262 million in 2003 and was set to rise again to 264 million in 2005.

It said total output would peak in 2008 but gave no exact figures. It said, however, that total output in the five years 2005-09 would be 1.39 billion cubic metres of oil equivalent, or an annual average of 278 million cubic metres.

The directorate said that oil production would be "slightly lower" in 2005, dipping to 2.8 million bpd, or 160 million cubic metres, from 162.8 million cubic metres in 2004 and from 165.5 million in 2003.

It said that the 2004 oil output figure was 2.8 percent below previous forecasts, largely due to closure of Snorre and Vigdis. On Jan. 12, operator Statoil won a green light to restart almost half production.

Production by the non-OPEC producer was also dented in 2004 by a four-month rig workers' strike.

Two new fields came on stream in 2004, Kvitebjorn and Skirne, and two more are expected to start up in 2005, Kristin and Urd.

Investments in petroleum in 2004 were 70 billion Norwegian crowns ($11.30 billion), excluding exploration costs, and up from 60 billion in 2003.

Norway, which found oil off its shores at the end of the 1960s, has seen oil output on many fields begin to taper off, though gas production is still growing steeply.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE - 14 January 2005

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