SANDEFJORD (Dow Jones Newswires), Jan. 17, 2012
Norway has awarded 60 new production licenses to 42 oil companies in the "biggest ever" award in so-called predefined areas, Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said Tuesday.
Companies were awarded 34 licenses in the North Sea, 22 licenses in the Norwegian Sea and 4 licenses in the Barents Sea, Moe said at an oil conference here.
The licenses are situated in mature areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, where 27 of the companies have been awarded operatorships.
Only one of the 43 companies which had shown an interest didn't get a license.
Moe also said that the recent Aldous/Avaldsnes discovery in the North Sea will be renamed Johan Sverdrup, after a former Norwegian politician.
Norwegian oil major Statoil ASA's said it was awarded ownership interests in eleven production licenses on the Norwegian shelf. Most of the licenses awarded to Statoil are in the mature areas of the North Sea, Statoil said, adding that this is an important area for the company.
"Although we have made a number of significant discoveries recently, it is still very important that we have access to new acreage in order to curb the decline in production on the Norwegian shelf after 2020," the company wrote in a statement.
Statoil's Chief Executive Helge Lund said that the company aims for a production start at Aldous/Avaldsnes "well ahead of 2020" and reiterated his demand for new acreage to increase production after that date.
"Unless we get new discoveries, production can halve from 2020 to 2030," Lund said.
Asked whether he doesn't now need access to the controversial Lofoten and Vesteraalen areas, after recent large discoveries elsewhere, he said that "it is important" to evaluate these areas.
Maersk Oil, the oil-arm of Danish business conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S), said it was awarded seven production licenses in the licensing round, adding that the new licenses will strength Maersk's position around the large Avaldsnes discovery and other Maersk-oil operated license areas.
The Petroleum Directorate is the only entity allowed to gather seismic data from Lofoten and Vesteraalen in northern Norway, as they aren't yet open for exploration. Lofoten is closed for oil business at least until after the next election in 2013, in an agreement between the Socialist party, SV, and its two government partners.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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