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The application deadline for production licences in the 23 rd licensing round expired on 2 December. Twenty-six companies had applied for exploration acreage by the end of the deadline.
This licensing round comprises 57 announced blocks or parts of blocks, 3 of which are in the Norwegian Sea and 54 in the Barents Sea. Thirty-four of the announced blocks are situated in the newly opened area in the south-eastern Barents Sea, and many of the applications target this acreage.
"It is gratifying to see that so many competent companies want to explore in new acreage during a time when we are experiencing low oil prices and cost cuts. This shows that the companies recognise opportunities and the potential of finding oil and gas in these new areas," comments Sissel Eriksen, exploration director at the NPD.
She notes that the announced blocks are located in frontier areas, and that more exploration is needed in order to clarify the resource potential.
A total of 36 companies applied for production licences in the 22nd licensing round. APA 2015 experienced a great deal of interest, with 44 companies submitting applications. This can indicate that the smaller players have prioritised APA ahead of the 23rd licensing round this year.
26 companies have applied for production licences, individually or in groups:
The list reveals a broad player landscape with mostly large and medium-sized companies, but also a few smaller players. Two of the companies, INPEX and Kufpec, are newcomers this autumn. Kufpec also applied in this year's APA round.
"It is exciting that new companies want to enter the Norwegian Shelf. The authorities have worked for many years to facilitate the establishment of new players here, as we are certain that this can contribute to enhanced value creation."
The work of reviewing all the applications starts now. The NPD is looking for the companies with the best knowledge, the best applications and the best strategy for exploring the areas.
Companies that are awarded licences must have both technical expertise and a good understanding of the geology. Financial strength and experience are also emphasized.
The announced blocks are subject to both fishery and environment related conditions, which aredescribed in the announcement. In order to ensure a good evaluation of the applications, the announced blocks have been mapped by the NPD. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy plans to award new licences in the 23rd licensing round before summer 2016.