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Norway Expands Arctic Oil Exploration

Norway has awarded four new exploration licenses in frontier Arctic areas as it looks to support its oil and gas industry, as well as value and job creation, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said on Wednesday.

The ministry has offered seven companies stakes or operatorship in four production licenses, one in the Norwegian Sea and three in the Barents Sea, as part of its 25th licensing round. The so-called numbered licensing round typically includes frontier parts of the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).

According to Norway’s oil ministry, it will be the frontier regions that are most likely to host large new discoveries.

Norway needs new discoveries to maintain employment in one of its most important industries and its supply chain, especially after the last few challenging months, Energy Minister Tina Bru said last year when the ministry proposed the expansion of areas for oil and gas exploration.

In the 25th licensing round, announced in November 2020, companies could apply for licenses in nine different areas—eight in the Barents Sea and one in the Norwegian Sea.

After evaluating the bids, Norway awarded stakes and/or operatorship to Shell, Equinor, Idemitsu Petroleum Norway, INEOS E&P Norway, Lundin, OMV (Norway), and Vår Energi, the ministry said today. Of the four licenses, Equinor will operate two, while Vår Energi—majority held by Italy’s Eni—and INEOS will each operate one license.

Earlier this month, Norway’s government said that it is betting on offshore wind, hydrogen, and electrification to meet its commitment under the Paris Agreement, but its oil and gas sector will continue to play a major role in long-term job creation, economic growth prospects, and value for the country.

Norway, Western Europe’s largest oil producer, is preparing to face the energy transition, yet it believes that it can develop its petroleum resources to deliver low-emission production within its climate policy, the government’s White Paper ‘Putting Energy to Work’ showed.

“The main goal of the government’s petroleum policy - to facilitate profitable production in the oil and gas industry in a long term perspective - is firmly in place,” minister Bru said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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