* Expansion of natural gas facility called off
* May look at expansion again with new gas discoveries
* Expansion had been planned for past 18 months
(Adds detail, background)
OSLO, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Statoil called off the long anticipated expansion of its Snoehvit natural gas facility in Norway's Arctic Barents Sea on Tuesday, saying there was not enough gas in place for now.
"The license (owners) have concluded that the current gas discoveries do not provide a sufficient basis for further capacity expansion," Statoil said in a statement. "With new gas discoveries increased capacity may again be considered.
Statoil has been studying an expansion of Snoehvit, the first field to begin production in Norway's Arctic region, for the past 18 months and the new facilities were expected to come online after 2022.
Earlier this year, Statoil revealed it had increased the reserve estimate at Snoehvit, fuelling hopes the company would go ahead with the expansion.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate estimated the field had 157.6 billion cubic meters of gas remaining at the start of 2012 and also had another 19 billion cubic metres of condensate.
For now, Statoil will focus on optimising and upgrading the existing liquefied natural gas facility.
Statoil is Snoehvit's operator and holds 36.79 percent while state holding firm Petoro has 30 percent. Other owners include Total (18.4 percent), GDF Suez (12 percent) and RWE (2.81 percent).
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Mark Potter)
Keywords: STATOIL SNOEHVIT/