A total of 39 companies have applied for new acreage in Norway’s 2017 licensing round in the mature and best explored areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf—a record high since the awards in predefined areas (APA) scheme was launch in 2003, Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Ministry said on Wednesday.
The number of applications is nearly twice as many as in last year’s licensing round for the mature areas, and some 20 percent higher than the previous record-high of applications in 2014, the ministry said, in what could be exploration companies returning to drill more in the mature offshore areas in Europe after leaving behind the worst of the oil price crash.
The companies that have applied for acreage in the best-known areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) include Norway’s giant Statoil and the local subsidiaries of ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Eni, Total, OMV, Repsol, Suncor Energy, and Wintershall, to name a few, as well as companies with no prior record of NCS exploration.
The ministry will award the new production licenses in the announced areas at the beginning of 2018.
APA is one of two equal licensing rounds on the NCS. The other round is for awarding frontier acreage, with this year’s round offering a total of 102 blocks up for exploration—a record number of blocks in the area.
In the APA round, the expected size of discoveries is smaller, but exploration focuses on such discoveries that could be profitable to develop next to other larger discoveries because of existing or planned infrastructure.
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“The record high interest confirms that the oil companies see opportunities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. This shows that the Government's petroleum policy has the desired effect, which is vital to employment and to our revenue-stream from Norway's most important industry in the decades to come,” said Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Søviknes, just days before the general election in the country, in which oil policies and oil-related economic issues have taken center stage in debates.
“It is very important that additional resources near existing infrastructure are identified in time, and it is good to see that the companies are prioritising this,” Torgeir Stordal, exploration director at the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NDP), said in a statement.
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.