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Statoil sheds bulk of onshore wind and shifts focus out to sea

Norwegian oil and gas group Statoil is to dispose of the bulk of its onshore wind portfolio and says the focus of its renewables strategy will shift offshore.

Statoil will sell its 50% stake in Sarepta Energi, which owns five wind projects under development in mid-Norway, to local electricity generator Trønder Energi Kraft (TEK).

The company will also sell four wind projects totalling 480MW in Finnmark, in the extreme northeastern corner of Norway, to Finnmark Kraft.

“We are now in a process where we want to sharpen our focus where we believe we can contribute most,” says Ståle Tungesvik, senior vice president of renewables at Statoil.

“Offshore wind is an area experiencing strong market growth, and one in which Statoil can utilise its expertise as the world's largest offshore operator.”

Statoil has been among the most aggressive oil and gas companies in its moves into offshore wind development.

More than half the foundations have been installed at its 317MW Sheringham Shoal offshore project, which it is building jointly with Norway’s Statkraft off the UK’s North Norfolk coast.

Last year Statoil secured Dogger Bank – a UK Round 3 zone in UK waters and, at 9GW, the largest offshore wind area ever awarded – as part of the Forewind consortium with Statkraft, RWE and Scottish and Southern Energy.

Statoil also owns the Hywind project, the world’s first floating offshore turbine deployed since 2009 off southwestern Norway.

The company recently ruled out Norway as a potential host of the next Hywind installations, saying there is not enough political support for offshore wind emanating from Oslo.

Instead it points to Scotland and the US state of Maine as likely candidates.

Despite its activity in the renewables sector, Statoil has in the past criticised the costs of offshore wind.

Chief executive Helge Lund was last year forced to backtrack on comments he made about the commercial prospects of renewables over the next two decades.

Having initially said “we have to assess whether it is viable to be engaged in both oil and gas and in renewables”, Lund later insisted that there is “no reason in my view to question our commitment” to renewables.