61 Licenses Awarded to 30 Companies to Explore Oil Sources in Norwegian Continental Shelf

Norwegian Petroleum Ministry issued licenses to explore mature zones; hopeful of new discoveries

View from an oil exploration vessel. Credit: Equnior website

Norway has issued a record 61 offshore oil and gas exploration licenses to 30 companies. These licenses will allow companies to explore mature areas in the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Mature zones are areas in the Shelf whose geology has been well-researched. In addition to this, these areas have pre-existing infrastructure which allows companies to discover new sources without extraneous investment.

The breakdown of 61 licenses is as follows: 34 production licenses in the North Sea, 24 licenses in the Norwegian Sea and 3 licenses in the Barents Sea. Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tina Bru, said: “Even after decades of activity, there are still opportunities in these areas. Due to new technology and a multitude of new players, I believe we will see new discoveries in the areas available in this year’s APA [Awards in Predefined Areas] round. These companies have shown great interest in gaining access to new exploration acreage, illustrating the industry’s confidence in continued profitability from exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf. This is good news for the Norwegian state as resource owner.”

Kalmar Ildstad, Director of License Management at the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, said: “This year’s award of 61 new production licenses to as many as 30 companies shows that the petroleum industry still has significant expectations of making profitable discoveries on the Norwegian Shelf. It’s positive that the companies are showing significant interest in exploring in areas with known geology and close to existing infrastructure.”

Among the 30 companies which were awarded licenses, Equinor, Wintershall DEA, Lundin, Aker BP and Vår Energi managed to garner the highest number of licenses. Commenting on the 17 licenses that Equinor won, Nick Ashton, Equinor’s Senior Vice President for Exploration, Norway, said: “We are living in very exciting times. Digitalization gives us new insight into the underground and an opportunity to find more oil and gas. At the same time, we are facing ever-stricter requirements for CO2 emissions throughout the value chain, from discovery to consumption, and we must succeed in both areas. This is not an easy task, but it is highly rewarding to help solve it.”