With ‘diversity in the player landscape,’ Norway offers offshore oil & gas licenses to 25 firms

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has offered production licenses to 25 companies for further exploration activity on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) as part of the award in pre-defined areas 2022 (APA 2022).

The Norne field in the Norwegian Sea; Credit: Gudmund Nymoen/Equinor

While announcing significant interest in further exploration on the Norwegian shelf in September 2022, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy disclosed that applications from 26 companies were received by the application deadline of 12 September 2022 in connection with APA 2022, which was announced on 14 June 2022. As explained at the time, the aim was to award new production licenses in the North Sea, Norwegian Sea, and the Barents Sea at the beginning of 2023.

Related Article

In an update on Tuesday, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) revealed that 25 companies were offered ownership interests in a total of 47 production licenses on the Norwegian shelf in APA 2022. According to the NPD, out of the 47 production licenses, 29 are in the North Sea, 16 in the Norwegian Sea and 2 in the Barents Sea. Moreover, 20 of these production licenses are additional acreage for existing production licenses.

APA 2022 map; Source: The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy
APA 2022 map; Source: The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy

Kalmar Ildstad, NPD’s Director license management, remarked: “It’s gratifying to see such diversity in the player landscape, and that the companies are interested in the APAs and the Norwegian shelf. A key factor for further value creation on the shelf will be utilising available capacity in existing oil and gas infrastructure. That’s why it’s important that the companies continue active exploration to find resources that are close to this infrastructure.”

Equinor gets 26 new licenses on NCS

In a separate statement, Equinor confirmed that it got 26 new production licenses – 18 licenses as an operator and eight as a partner – in APA 2022. The Norwegian state-owned energy giant explains that the production from existing oil and gas fields will decline, thus, continued exploration and replenishment are “essential to maintaining long-term, important energy deliveries from Norway.”

Out of Equinor’s 26 recently awarded licenses, 16 are in the North Sea, nine in the Norwegian Sea, and one in the Barents Sea. In 2023, the firm plans to participate in 25 exploration wells, most of them around existing infrastructure.

Jez Avery, Equinor’s senior vice president for subsurface in Exploration & Production Norway, stated: “Around 80 per cent of the exploration wells will be drilled in known, mature areas. Discoveries near existing infrastructure require less volume to be commercially developed, and can be quickly put on stream and with low CO2 emissions. We thus maximize the value creation from existing infrastructure that has been developed over a long period on the NCS.

“Exploration is essential to our ambition to transform the NCS from and oil and gas province to a broad energy province. New gas volumes will be key to enabling the development of new value chains for hydrogen for Europe.”

Aker BP secures 17 new licenses in Norway

Moreover, Aker BP underlines that it has been offered interests in 17 new production licenses – 13 are located in the North Sea (six as operator) and four in the Norwegian Sea (three as operator) – offshore Norway, of which nine are operatorships, through APA 2022.

Per Øyvind Seljebotn, Senior Vice President Exploration and Reservoir in Aker BP, outlined: “The awards contain several interesting growth or new play opportunities with the potential to deliver new discoveries and development projects to Aker BP. The awards also support our ambitious exploration strategy and our strategic priority to establish the next wave of profitable growth options.

“The annual APA awards are very important to Aker BP in order to maintain a high exploration activity in mature areas on the Norwegian shelf. These awards strengthen Aker BP’s position on the NCS and is a basis for continued exploration activity and value creation both in core areas and new grow opportunities.”

Vår Energi lands 12 new NCS licenses

Vår Energi also reported that it was awarded 12 new production licenses on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, of which five are operatorships, in APA 2022. These licenses are in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea, mostly close to existing infrastructure.

Torger Rød, Vår Energi CEO, underlined the importance of the APA rounds: “Continuous access to new exploration area is the foundation for value creation and further development of the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Stable frame conditions enable efficient exploration and field development. It creates activity for the Norwegian supplier industry as well as ripple effects for our local societies.”

DNO bags 11 new licenses

DNO also reported that its wholly-owned subsidiary DNO Norge was awarded participation in 11 exploration licenses under Norway’s APA 2022 licensing round. Nine of these are in the North Sea and two in the Norwegian Sea with one being an operatorship. At year-end 2022, DNO held interests in 69 licenses offshore Norway, of which 16 were operated by the company.

OKEA expands portfolio with four licenses

Furthermore, OKEA said that it was offered stakes in four new production licenses on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, two of which are operatorships, through APA 2022, further strengthening the firm’s portfolio of near-field exploration opportunities around its Draugen, Brage and Gjøa production hubs. As a result, the company now has interests in over 16 exploration-focused licenses.

The two new OKEA-operated licenses are located in the Norwegian Sea and the Northern North Sea, close to its operated Draugen and Brage assets. The third license, to be operated by Equinor, is located in the Norwegian Sea, west of Njord, while the fourth license, to be operated by Neptune, is located in the Northern North Sea, south of Gjøa.

Morten Krogh, OKEA VP Exploration, stated: ‘’These new awards give OKEA a great opportunity to build further on the near-field exploration activities we have around Draugen, Brage, which is a newly acquired asset for OKEA, and the Gjøa area where we also operate the Aurora discovery. In addition, we have added acreage in the Norwegian Sea near our Mistral and Fagn exploration licenses’’.

Neptune wins two new licenses

Neptune Energy also announced that it was awarded two new licenses in APA 2022, which are located close to existing infrastructure in the Gjøa and Fram areas of the Norwegian North Sea, where the firm already has a presence, “reflecting the company’s exploration strategy to focus on key opportunities within core areas.”

Odin Estensen, Neptune Energy’s Managing Director in Norway and the UK, underlined: “Neptune has continued to demonstrate its ability to convert exploration success into development and production in a safe, timely and cost-efficient manner. Through this latest licensing round, we continue to build a sustainable exploration portfolio in our core areas.”