LONDON (AP) _ The bidding intensified Ireland's Aran Energy PLC on Tuesday, as Norwegian oil giant Statoil made a cash offer valuing Aran at about $318 million.

Aran had been fighting a cash bid of $286 million from Atlantic Richfield Co. of Los Angeles and said it welcomed the emergence of Statoil as a suitor.

But Aran directors said they would give no advice to shareholders until they see whether Arco will make a higher bid.

Arco said it was studying Statoil's offer and would have no immediate response.

Traders were betting the price could rise.

Aran shares jumped 3.6 percent on the London Stock Exchange to $1.23 a share, slightly above the per-share price of $1.22 offered by Statoil.

Statoil senior vice president Rolf Magne Larsen said that Statoil's strong technological expertise could make Aran a more valuable company.

``We are sorry that the board of Aran did not feel able to recommend this generous offer, but look forward to working with them in the future,'' Larsen said in a statement.