In a swap of sorts, Norway’s Statoil ASA is buying a quarter interest in 50 of ConocoPhillips’ leases in the Chukchi Sea offshore Alaska. In turn, the Houston-based producer would take a stake in some of Statoil’s leases in the Lower Tertiary Trend of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). No financial details were disclosed.

ConocoPhillips, which bought the Chukchi Sea leases in a federal auction two years ago, would operate and retain control of the Alaska drilling projects. Initial drilling is scheduled to begin there in 2012. Statoil, which is considered the world’s largest offshore operator, would become the fourth largest operator in Alaska when the transaction with ConocoPhillips is completed, the company said.

“Statoil’s decision to acquire interest in these leases substantiates ConocoPhillips’ view that world-class hydrocarbon potential exists in the Chukchi Sea of Alaska,” said Larry Archibald, ConocoPhillips’ senior vice president for exploration and business development.

Statoil and ConocoPhillips have conducted joint operations on the Norwegian continental shelf for more than 30 years.

“The Chukchi Sea in Alaska is a new frontier area for all operators,” said Tony Dore, who heads Statoil’s North American exploration group. “By adding on these leases to the 16 we already have in Chukchi, we have now acquired a sizable acreage portfolio to explore in the coming years.”

In the second transaction, ConocoPhillips agreed to buy a half-stake in 16 Statoil-operated GOM leases and acquire Statoil’s 25% stake in each of five additional leases that ConocoPhillips operates.

©Copyright 2010Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.