Scientific surveys on the Norwegian continental shelf

Petroleum is just one of many interesting things on the Norwegian continental shelf. Norwegian and international research institutions conduct surveys every year to collect geological and geophysical data.

The right to conduct research on the shelf is laid down in the Law of the Sea Convention, and also in Norwegian legislation (see links). Due to its extensive knowledge about the shelf, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NDP) is responsible for processing these applications. In addition to making its own assessments, the NPD submits the applications for consultation with other relevant public stakeholders. Everyone who wants to perform scientific surveys on the Norwegian shelf must apply in advance for each survey.

International institutions submit their applications for scientific surveys in Norwegian waters to the Directorate of Fisheries. The applications that are found to be relevant to the shelf (the seabed or subsurface) are then forwarded to the NPD for processing. Issued licences are returned to the applicant via the Directorate of Fisheries. Applications from Norwegian institutions are sent directly to the NPD. The processing directorate will receive a final report and a copy of relevant data and results from the expedition. Some information about these expeditions is available on the Directorate of Fisheries’ website.

Here is an overview of scientific survey licences issued by the NPD during the period 2004-2015. This overview shows which institutions have been granted licences, the type of surveys being conducted, and where they were conducted.

For earlier years, corresponding overviews can be found in the NPD’s annual reports, which were published in paper format through 2003. Digital versions are available on the NPD’s website.