Permission to carry out surveys on the Norwegian continental shelf can be granted in accordance with an exploration permit or within a production license, cf. Sections 2-1 and 3-3 of the Petroleum Act.
Exploration permits are now granted for one year at a time, while production licenses are granted for up to ten years (initial period).
Before a survey is initiated, the licensees submit notification about their plans for seismic data acquisition to the NPD, the Directorate of Fisheries, the Institute of Marine Research (HI) and the Ministry of Defence. The NPD coordinates this work. The consultation bodies give technical advice, in part based on the expected fishery activities in relation to the respective survey.
Based on the consultation submissions, the NPD will make a recommendation to the licensee. Normally, the NPD will recommend that the licensee follow the recommendations made by the consultation bodies. If a consultation submission is negative regarding the specific activity, the NPD will contact the relevant licensee to attempt to adapt the activity in line with the recommendations made by the consultation bodies. If the NPD decides to recommend an activity in spite of submissions from consultation bodies, a copy of the NPD's recommendation will be sent to the consultation body in question, as well as to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE).
Such recommendations set out assumptions for how the NPD expects the survey to take place, particularly in relation to fishery activities that might be underway, or that commence during the data acquisition, so that conflict situations do not arise. Licensees are informed that ongoing fishery activities have general priority.
The regulations also require that a fishery expert be on board during seismic data acquisition. The job of the fishery expert is to contribute to avoiding conflicts between the seismic vessel and the fisheries.
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