MONGSTAD, NORWAY // Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, is shifting from its campaign to secure onshore rights in Abu Dhabi to an offshore bid.
A trove of onshore oilfields accounting for 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) - half of Abu Dhabi's output - is due to expire in 2014 after a 75-year run, and Statoil was seen as one of the potential beneficiaries in the reshuffling of fields pumped by the "supermajors" since the Second World War.
As recently as 2010 Helge Lund, the chief executive of Statoil, had indicated the company was "positioning" itself for a 2014 bid for the concession often referred to as Adco because it is operated by the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations.
"We are primarily looking at offshore opportunities," said Mr Lund yesterday. "That has been the key focus of Statoil moving forward."
He was careful to add that Statoil was not officially withdrawing from the Adco bid and was pursuing offshore opportunities: "We continue to respond to the processes in Abu Dhabi and make the company well known and communicate - showing our examples of technology development and how we are running our company."
Statoil, a publicly traded oil company majority-owned by the Norwegian government, has enjoyed success in the past year in expansions outside its home country, boosting its overall production by 12 per cent. This week it engineered a landmark deal with Rosneft to drill in the challenging Russian Arctic.
But the race for Abu Dhabi oil is another story.
A cast of supermajors - ExxonMobil, Total, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Portugal's Partex - hold the rights to the prized Adco concession and are touting their knowledge of the fields and proprietary technology.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi has turned itself eastward, promising South Korea the rights to 1 billion barrels of reserves when Adco expires and arranging a cooperation deal between China National Petroleum Corporation and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for undeveloped assets in the emirate.
iPad users can follow our twitterfeed via Flipboard - just search for Ind_Insights on the app.