A preliminary count shows that 47 companies have applied for acreage in the Awards in Predefined Areas 2008 (APA 2008). The interest in awards in predefined areas in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea remains high, six years after the system was established. More new players have also applied this year.
"The high level of interest shows that the APA system contributes to efficient exploration of the shelf, in line with the authorities' intentions," said Sissel Eriksen, Director in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate with responsibility for exploration.
The interest shown by the companies confirms that they still find mature areas on the Norwegian shelf attractive. Eriksen emphasised that the high number of applications is gratifying -- not least in light of the fact that the companies are also working on their applications for the 20th licensing round, where the application deadline is November 7.
APA 2008 was announced on May 9, 2008. Companies could apply for 215 blocks or parts of blocks by the application deadline on October 3, 2008. This amounts to an area totaling 48 057 km2. The area that could be applied for is divided among 114 blocks/parts of blocks in the North Sea, 62 in the Norwegian Sea and 39 in the Barents Sea.
The authorities received applications from 16 companies in the first APA round in 2003. The number of applicants has increased every year since then, with 46 companies submitting applications in APA 2007. At the same time, the available acreage in the APA scheme has been expanded. APA 2008 includes 19 more blocks/parts of blocks as compared with APA 2007. A total of 52 415 km2 distributed among 197 blocks or parts of blocks was available in APA 2007, of which 16 423 km2 was awarded. After this award, more than 10 000 km2 has been relinquished. This acreage is included in the area available in APA 2008.
The intention of the APA system is to promote more rapid exploration in mature areas. The predefined areas are expanded with the addition of new blocks as the shelf matures for petroleum activities. The system provides predictability in that the industry knows which areas will be available in mature areas of the shelf for the years to come. This also makes it more attractive for new and smaller companies to establish themselves on the Norwegian shelf. The predefined areas include acreage that has already been well-explored, in addition to acreage where no exploration has been carried out for some time, and where major prospects in new exploration trends can be revealed with the aid of new technology and new knowledge.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE) the plan is to award new production licenses shortly after the new year.
These companies have applied for production licences in APA 2008:
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