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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Oil giant merger gets green light
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Oil and gas earnings are vital to the welfare of Norway
The planned merger of the energy operations of Norway's oil giant Statoil and Norsk Hydro has been approved by shareholders.

Investors in both firms voted in favour of the tie-up, which will create the world's largest offshore oil and gas operator, and is worth almost 15bn.

The new firm will be named StatoilHydro and will be able to produce 1.9 million barrels of oil a day.

The deal is due to complete in October, will help the firms compete overseas.

"Internationally there is no doubt that we will be more competitive by being larger," said Statoil chief executive Helge Lund, who will become head of the new company.

Mr Lund insisted that production from Norway's oil reserves in the North Sea would remain the focus of operations.

Norway is the world's third-largest crude oil exporter, though dwindling reserves in its own waters means it is having to compete petroleum resources around the world.

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