The group is seeking extensive acreage in both the North and Norwegian Seas, reports Tor Fjæran, senior vice president for exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf.
"We have great faith in the NCS, and expect to secure good awards from the 18th round," he says.
"These waters will hopefully remain our most important priority for many years to come, but that depends entirely on securing new exploration assignments."
The deadline for applications was today, with plans calling for new licenses to be awarded by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy before the summer.
A total of 95 blocks in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea south of the Lofoten islands are on offer, making this the largest licensing round since Norway's first in 1965.
"Although it's big, we still face a substantial exploration risk in the areas covered by our application," observes Mr. Fjaeran.
A sizeable award of acreage to the group could contribute to a rapid expansion in exploration activity.
Statoil plans to start shooting seismic surveys this year in any new licenses it receives, and could be spudding its first wells on the acreage in 2005.
The group is cooperating actively with other companies to increase diversity and exploit joint knowledge on and expertise about the areas concerned.
In this round, it has joined forces with Shell for the deepwater parts of the Norwegian Sea and with Germany's RWE Dea in the southern part of Norway's North Sea sector.
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