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Norway awarded a record seventy-five new offshore oil exploration leases to companies in its latest bidding round, according to a new report by Reuters.
“The number of licenses is the highest ever awarded in a licensing round on the Norwegian continental shelf. Access to new, prospective exploration acreage is a central pillar in the government’s petroleum policy,” Energy Minister Terje Soeviknes said in a statement.
Forty-five were in the North Sea, 22 in the Norwegian Sea, and eight others in the Barents Sea. Thirty-four firms were awarded leases and 19 of them earned the rights to lead their corresponding projects. Statoil, which is based in Norway, won 31 leases, while BP’s subsidiary scored 23.
Thanks to costs cuts and large oil discoveries made before the oil price crash, Norway will be able to sustain its oil and gas production over the next five years. But reduced exploration drilling and lack of big discoveries in the past two years spell trouble for Western Europe’s biggest oil and gas producer after 2023, authorities fear.
Nearly two-thirds of the undiscovered resources are thought to be located in the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) directorate said last week in its review of the Norwegian Continental Shelf in 2017.
This is why, despite protests from environmentalists and an explicit agenda from the central government to make Norway’s energy investment greener, Oslo continues to encourage drilling. Global demand may be set to peak, but it has not yet.
Norway’s total oil and gas production increased for a fourth straight year in 2017, thanks to higher gas production. Oil production, on the other hand, dropped to 1.59 million bpd from 1.61 million bpd in 2016, down 2 percent, mostly due to an unplanned maintenance shutdown at the Goliat oil field.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…