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Norway has received bids from 38 companies applying for new exploration acreage in the latest licensing round for mature areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum said on Friday.
Both the number of applicant companies and the total number of applications are almost as high as in last year’s record-breaking licensing round, the ministry noted, adding that the 38 companies include large international firms and smaller exploration companies. Equinor, ConocoPhillips, Total, Wintershall, Eni, and Aker BP are some of the big names on the list of the companies who had applied for new exploration acreage.
Announcing the mature areas licensing round in May this year, Norway expanded the predefined area by 103 blocks in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.
After receiving the bids, now the Petroleum Ministry aims to award the new production licenses at the beginning of 2019.
“The fact that the oil companies show such high interest in exploration on the Norwegian Continental Shelf is important for future value-creation, employment and state revenue from Norway’s largest and most important industry. I am therefore very pleased that we also this year have received a large number of applications from a broad range of companies,” Norway’s new Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Kjell Børge Freiberg, said.
There is still a lot of oil to be discovered on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) says, estimating that the undiscovered resources are equal to around 40 Johan Castberg fields. Johan Castberg in the Barents Sea is estimated to have recoverable resources of 450-650 million barrels of oil equivalent, field operator Equinor says.
Another Equinor-developed field, the giant Johan Sverdrup in the North Sea, is slated to start production in late 2019 and will be the main contributor to Norway’s rising oil production until 2023.
But from the mid-2020s onward, production offshore Norway will start to decline “so making new and large discoveries quickly is necessary for maintaining production at the same level from the mid-2020s,” Torgeir Stordal, Director exploration at the NPD, said in the directorate’s 2018 resource and exploration report in June.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.