Norway Launches New Offshore Lease Sale
Norway has announced a new licensing round for its offshore oil and gas fields in predefined areas (APA).
Licenses in areas in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea are expected to be awarded in 2019. The latest licensing round has been expanded by 103 blocks compared to last year, 47 of which are in the Norwegian Sea and 56 in the Barents Sea, some closer to Norway's maritime border with Russia than previous areas offered.
Last summer, a major drilling campaign in the Barents Sea failed to discover commercial oil fields, but the ministry remains optimistic.
“Awarding acreage in mature areas in annual APA rounds is an important part of the Norwegian Government's commitment to a stable and long-term petroleum policy,” says Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Søviknes.
However, Environmental groups are critical. “Søviknes doesn’t care about knowledge and drives on with more oil in vulnerable areas,” says head of the environmental organization Nature and Youth, Gaute Eiterjord. “Production of oil and gas is Norway’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Norway is the seventh largest exporter of fossil fuels. Since the world has already discovered far more oil and gas then can ever be burned, we believe awarding new blocks is irresponsible and violates Norway’s climate commitments.”
In January this year, 75 new production licenses were awarded to 34 companies as part of APA 2017. Never before had so many production licenses been awarded in an APA round, and never before had this many applications been submitted. Of the 75 production licenses, 45 were in the North Sea, 22 in the Norwegian Sea and eight in the Barents Sea.
“It is positive that the companies are showing so much interest in exploring in the mature areas on the Norwegian shelf, where it is still possible to exploit existing infrastructure,” said Wenche Tjelta Johansen, assistant director responsible for exploration in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, at the time.