Norway announced on Friday the annual licensing round for oil and gas exploration in mature areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, expanding the total acreage up for grabs by 36 blocks west of the Norwegian Sea.
The so-called Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) are announced every year and comprise the mature parts of the shelf, which has known geology and good infrastructure already in place, allowing tie-backs to existing infrastructure for any new discoveries.
“The Norwegian Government pursues a long-term, predictable petroleum policy. New discoveries are a prerequisite for long-term employment, value creation and government revenues. Regular licensing rounds on the Norwegian Continental Shelf are therefore a key element in our policy,” Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tina Bru, said in a statement.
Norway is currently reducing its oil production by the end of the year because of the slump in oil prices. But after Johan Sverdrup and the planned Johan Castberg oilfield reach peak production in a couple of years, Norway’s oil production is set for a natural decline after 2023 in the absence of significant new discoveries.
“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 round,” Bru said.
Companies can apply for this licensing round until September 22, while the ministry plans to grant new production licenses in the announced areas in early 2021.
In the previous licensing round in mature areas, Norway awarded early this year 69 new production licenses to 28 companies to explore in areas next to mature developed production areas, securing further exploration on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Norway awarded 33 licenses in the North Sea, 23 licenses in the Norwegian Sea, and 13 licenses in the Barents Sea.