Norway: Oil firms called to nominate NCS blocks

The Norwegian government has invited oil companies to nominate blocks for the 24th licencing round on the licensing continental shelf.

The numbered licensing rounds cover frontier areas opened for petroleum activities, with the greatest potential for large discoveries.

“The petroleum industry will be our largest and most important industry for decades to come. This will be facilitated by the Government’s steady and predictable petroleum policy. A central element of the policy is to offer a high number of awards in prospective exploration acreage. Starting the 24th licencing round today is a concrete follow-up of this policy,” says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

In the Barents Sea, there will be extensive exploration activity over the next few years in licenses already awarded. Thus, the principle of stepwise exploration will also apply to the 24th licencing round, the government said. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is also accepting nominations in the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea. As for the Norwegian Sea, laying the foundation for efficient utilisation of the existing transport system – in which there will be considerable spare capacity after 2020 – is important for future exploration activities.

“Our licensing policy forms the basis for both profitable activity and efficient exploration activity, facilitating continuous exploration activity by oil companies on the Norwegian continental shelf. Awarding prospective exploration acreage is a central element in order to maintain employment, activity and high value creation. This is particularly important in the present situation with weaker employment figures in the petroleum industry and related industries, says Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tord Lien.

The government says that the strategy for licensing rounds in newly opened and frontier areas has mainly adhered to the principle of sequential exploration. This entails that results of wells in certain blocks in a given area should be available and evaluated before new blocks are announced in the same area. This approach ensures that large areas can be mapped with relatively few exploration wells. In this manner, available information is used for further exploration, while drilling of unnecessary, dry wells can be avoided.

The announcement of 24th licensing round is expected before next summer.  All areas that have been opened for petroleum activities can be nominated in the 24th licencing round, with the following exceptions: Areas covered by licences; Areas included in the APA area (Awards in Predefined Areas); Areas for which relevant activity restrictions have been established through the various integrated management plans for the sea areas

The oil companies have until November 30, 2016 to submit their nominations.

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