Norway Awards 34 Oil Cos New Production Licenses in 20th Round

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE) has awarded new production licenses in the 20th licensing round on the Norwegian shelf. 34 companies received offers to participate in 21 new production licenses.

"The awards are in line with the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's (NPD's) recommendation. The NPD believes that it is important to maintain continuous activity levels in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea, and the awards in the 20th round will contribute to this," said exploration director Sissel Eriksen.

The areas furthest to the west and north awarded in the Barents Sea are located in exploration provinces that have not previously been explored. The NPD believes that the information obtained from these blocks will be an important factor in further exploration of new areas.

There is still a considerable potential for new discoveries in the Norwegian Sea. Several of the blocks are located in deep water in the Voring Basin. This round includes blocks further northwest than previously, in an area that has been marked by significant volcanic activity. There will be significant challenges associated with mapping the prospective levels in this area because a thick layer of lava covers the levels below. It is important to get good imaging of the layers under the lava to improve understanding of this area. This is a complex and relatively unexplored area of the Norwegian shelf.

Eriksen emphasises that the NPD is very satisfied with this comprehensive licensing round. The companies have shown substantial interest, and it is clear that the players still have confidence in the Norwegian shelf.

The companies received offers to participate in a total of 79 blocks -- 51 in the Norwegian Sea and 28 in the Barents Sea.

Preparations for the licensing round began in October 2007, when the MPE invited oil companies to nominate blocks they felt should be included in the announcement. The licensing round was announced in June of last year, and the deadline for applications was Nov. 7.

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