The shelf in 2004 - Seven new companies

22/12/2004 The companies Wintershall, Noble Energy and Centrica are the latest of a total of seven new players pre-qualified by the authorities in 2004 as licensees or operators on the Norwegian shelf.

By Øyvind Midttun

Approval letters have now been sent to Wintershall AG, Noble Energy Inc. and Centrica Energy. The German company Wintershall, the American company Noble Energy and the British company Centrica have all been pre-qualified as operators.

Wintershall was founded in 1894 and since 1969 the company has been a subsidiary of the German chemical corporation BASF. Wintershall functions as BASF's oil and gas division.  Up to 1998, the company's interests on the Norwegian shelf were handled through Deminex.  When Deminex was split up in 1998, the interests on the Norwegian shelf were taken over by RWE-DEA.  In 2002, the company purchased Clyde Petroleum, which became an integrated part of Wintershall.
In total, the company has approx. 1500 employees.

Centrica was formed in 1997 when British Gas was split into Centrica plc and BG plc.  Centrica is primarily a gas company, and is currently the largest gas supplier in the United Kingdom.  As of today, the company employs about 29,700 people and its activities include everything from telephony to distribution and production of electricity and gas.
Centrica Energy is a composite name for a group of business areas within the parent company Centrica, which covers all upstream activity.  This includes production of both gas and electric power.  Among other things, the company operates the Morecambe fields on the British Shelf.  In the spring of 2004, the company bought a 33.33 % ownership interest in the British part of the Statfjord field from ChevronTexaco.  Centrica is now number five on the list of the largest gas-producing companies in the United Kingdom, producing 10% of the country's total gas production.

Noble Energy has its origins in the oil company "Samedan", which was formed in the USA in 1932.  In 1972, the company was listed on the stock exchange under the name "Noble" and in 2002 the company changed its name to "Noble Energy".
Noble is currently an independent oil company with a market worth of approx. USD 2.9 billion.  The company has operations in the USA, the Gulf of Mexico, China, Ecuador, the United Kingdom, Israel and Guinea.  The company is an operator in  Israel, China and Ecuador.  Production from the British shelf amounts to approx. 11,000 bbls/d.
Information on other new players.

Seven new companies have been pre-qualified during 2004:

  • Sumitomo, L
  • Oranje Nassau, L
  • Lundin Petroleum, O
  • Endeavour, L
  • Wintershall, O
  • Noble Energy, O
  • Centrica plc, O

(L = licensee; O = operator)


"We interpret the fact that so many new companies want to establish themselves on the Norwegian shelf during the course of just one year as a sign that Norway is still an attractive place to explore for and produce petroleum.  We believe that these new companies - together with the companies already present on the shelf - will contribute to increased value creation, and ensure long-term and optimal exploitation of our oil and gas resources," says principal engineer Ståle Thorsen in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD).

The program under which companies can apply for pre-qualification as licensees or operators was introduced as a result of the authorities' desire to bring competent new players on to the Norwegian continental shelf.

The reason for setting up this system is to give the companies an opportunity to obtain an evaluation of their suitability for participation on the Norwegian continental shelf before the companies invest resources in assessing specific business opportunities.

The system is also used if the authorities find it necessary to perform a new review/re-qualification of companies that are currently licensees/operators with a low level of activity and who want to increase their activity.

The oil company DNO has been re-qualified as an operator on the Norwegian continental shelf in 2004.

[Overview of all companies that are pre-qualified as licensees/operators on the Norwegian shelf.]

Contact in the NPD:
Ståle Thorsen, tel. +47 51876354

Updated: 04/09/2009