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29 August 2023

Norway's 2024 Oil and Gas Exploration Blocks Attract Strong Interest

Norway has received a significant number of applications from energy companies for offshore oil and gas exploration blocks in this year's licensing round, with a strong focus on the Barents Sea.

The Ministry of Petroleum & Energy launched the Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) licensing round in early May, offering a total of 92 blocks, with 78 of them located in the Barents Sea.

The ministry announced that 25 companies submitted their applications by the deadline of August 23, and the awards are scheduled for the beginning of 2024.

Upstream is awaiting clarification from the ministry regarding the number of offers made for the 92 blocks and the uptake rate in the Barents Sea. The ministry has indicated that the total number of applications is confidential.

"We have received a large number of applications from active companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf to explore new petroleum resources in the designated areas," said Petroleum & Energy Minister Terje Aasland.

"Without exploration and new discoveries, we will neither be able to maintain the production of oil and gas over time nor further develop the petroleum sector and all the jobs in the industry."

"The strong interest shown by oil companies in the allocation of new extraction permits and exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf is, therefore, very encouraging."

All the companies that applied have existing operations in Norway, including Aker BP, Concedo, ConocoPhillips, DNO, Equinor, Harbour Energy, Inpex, Kufpec, Lime Petroleum, Longboat Japex, M Vest Energy, Neptune Energy, OKEA, OMV, Pandion Energy, Petrolia, PGNiG Upstream, Repsol, Shell, Source Energy, Sval Energi, TotalEnergies, Vaar Energi, Wellesley Petroleum, and Wintershall Dea.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) expressed satisfaction with the response.

"It's gratifying to note the continuing significant interest in investigating new exploration acreage among almost all active companies on the Norwegian continental shelf, and that we see an increased interest in the Barents Sea this year," said Kalmar Ildstad, the NPD's director of license management.

The NPD has now commenced the evaluation of the applications, focusing on geological understanding and exploration plans for the areas.