Illustration. Source: Equinor

With offshore licence offers from 25 oil & gas players, Norway keeps its position as exploration hub

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has received offers for production licences from 25 companies for further exploration activity on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), as part of the Award in Pre-Defined Areas 2023 (APA 2023).

Illustration. Source: Equinor

While revealing the still significant interest in further exploration on the NCS, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy explained on Tuesday, 29 August 2023, that applications from 25 companies were received by the application deadline of 23 August 2023 in connection with APA 2023, which was launched in May 2023. The aim is to award new production licenses in the North SeaNorwegian Sea, and the Barents Sea at the beginning of 2024.

Commenting on this, Terje Aasland, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, remarked: “We have received a large number of applications from the active companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf to search for new petroleum resources in the announced areas.

“Without exploration and new discoveries, we will neither be able to maintain the production of oil and gas over time nor further develop the petroleum sector and all the jobs in the industry. That the oil companies are showing such great interest in the awarding of new production licences and exploration on the Norwegian Continental Shelf is therefore very good.”

The APA area is being expanded as geological knowledge in areas on the Norwegian shelf increases. In this year’s licensing round, the predefined area was expanded by a further 92 blocks, including 78 blocks in the Barents Sea and 14 blocks in the Norwegian Sea. This expansion is expected to bring better arrangements for profitable investments, employment, and future production.

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The list of companies which applied for the offered areas includes Norske Shell, Aker BP, Concedo, ConocoPhillips Skandinavia, DNO Norge, Equinor, Harbour Energy Norge, INPEX Idemitsu Norge, KUFPEC Norway, Lime Petroleum, Longboat JAPEX Norge, M Vest Energy, Neptune Energy Norge, OKEA, OMV (Norge), Pandion Energy, Petrolia NOCO, PGNiG Upstream Norway, Repsol Norge, Source Energy, Sval Energi, TotalEnergies EP Norge, Vår Energi, Wellesley Petroleum, and Wintershall Dea Norge.

The annual licensing rounds were introduced in 2003 with the aim of facilitating the identification and extraction of profitable resources in mature areas before existing infrastructure shuts down. This enables regular replenishment of new exploration areas for the companies, which is important for achieving effective exploration.

According to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), almost all companies that are active on the Norwegian shelf have submitted applications in this year’s APA. The activities are now being taken to evaluate the applications, with a focus on geological understanding and plans for exploring the areas.

Kalmar Ildstad, NPD’s Director of licence management, stated: “It’s gratifying to note the continuing significant interest in investigating new exploration acreage among almost all active companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, and that we see an increased interest in the Barents Sea this year.”

Even though the NCS is one of the mature areas in regard to petroleum activity, the interest in the APA 2023 round is in line with Westwood’s forecast from June 2022, which underscored that exploration activity would continue to thrive in Norway.