Norwegian Government Makes Changes to Licensing System

The Norwegian Government is changing the licensing system in order to stimulate more efficient exploration in mature parts of the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). The change implies greater predictability, certain simplifications and a larger area available for applications. In mature parts of the NCS there is a significant potential to discover new resources, including resources that can be tied into existing infrastructure. Realizing these values is important for maintaining Norway's position as an important exporter of oil and gas, says Einar Steensnaes, the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy. In the Report to the Storting no. 38 (2001-2002) the Government launched a system with predefined areas in mature parts of the shelf. The new system replaces the yearly North Sea Awards.

The new system will give the companies more predictability. The industry will through the establishment of a fixed, predefined exploration area know the areas available in years to come. In future years there will be a pre-set time schedule. From 2004 and onwards, the companies can annually apply for new licensees from January 1st to October 1st. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy will process the applications submitted in the period, and award licenses by the end of the year.

The period from October 1st till the end of the year will be closed for applications. In this period the Ministry will consider possible extensions of the predefined area and make necessary changes in the framework conditions. The aim is to extend the predefined area when new areas develop into mature areas. The increased predictability with respect to the acreage available and the time schedule for the licensing rounds will allow for an improvement of the companies' long term planning and the allocation of internal resources.

The Ministry has also gone through the requirements in the documentation relating to the applications for licenses and has decided to make certain simplifications of these.

The Government is also, through this licensing round, making a larger area available for the industry. An important change from the earlier North Sea Awards is that an area on Haltenbanken in the Norwegian Sea is included in the announced predefined area. In the North Sea a smaller expansion is made compared to the North Sea Award 2002. The acreage announced totals 143 blocks or part of blocks.

In the announced areas in the North Sea and on Haltenbanken there has been petroleum activity in many years. These are mature areas with good knowledge of the geology. In the areas announced on the NCS there is a significant potential to discover new resources, including resources that can be tied into existing infrastructure.

The deadline for submission of applications is October 1, 2003. The awards are planned to take place in December 2003.

The following blocks or part of blocks are announced:

1/2, 5, 6, 9
2/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11
3/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9
7/2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
8/7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
15/2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12
16/1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
17/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
24/3, 9, 11, 12
25/1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
26/10, 11
29/3, 6, 9
30/1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12
31/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
33/5, 6, 9, 12
34/4, 7, 8, 10, 11
35/8, 9, 12
6406/1, 3, 5, 12
6407/1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
6506/11, 12
6507/3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12
6508/1
6607/12
6608/10, 11

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