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Norway Oil & Gas Investments to Surge in 2009

Reuters reported that Norway's statistics agency raised on Thursday its forecast for 2009 investment in the country's oiland gas sector by 9.6 percent to a record-high $20.34 billion but trimmed its 2008 estimate slightly

The 2009 estimate for investment in the sector, whichcontributes a quarter of Norway's GDP, is up from a forecast of 132.8 billion given in September.

"The increase is mainly due to higher estimates (forinvestment) in fields on stream," Statistics Norway said in astatement.

Statistics Norway trimmed its 2008 oil and gas investmentestimate to 127.4 billion crowns from a previous 128.2 billion.

The forecast for the year ahead generally rises through theyear as companies announce new plans. The current year'sforecast is sometimes adjusted downwards, for instance, if projects are delayed.

The estimates based on a survey of the industry were mainlymade before the financial crisis hit the oil sector, the statistics agency said.

"There is reason to believe that the oil companies'flexibility regarding investments next year are bound by alreadysigned contracts with subcontractors," Statistics Norway said in a statement.

Oil and gas exploration investment in 2009 is estimated at29.1 billion crowns, down from a September forecast of 31.4billion.

Norway is the world's fourth-largest oil exporter andWestern Europe's biggest natural gas exporter, and has benefitedin the past few years from soaring oil and gas prices.

It also has a large oilfield services sector, includingoffshore contractors and engineering firms, rig operators andshipping companies.