Act relating to mineral activities on the Continental Shelf (Seabed Minerals Act)
- Chapter 1. Introductory provisions
- Chapter 2. Opening areas for survays and extraction
- Chapter 3. Survey licences
- Chapter 4. Extraction licences, etc.
- Chapter 5. Cessation of activity, etc.
- Chapter 6. Special safety requirements
- Chapter 7. Registration and mortgaging
- Chapter 8. Special rules regarding compensation to Norwegian fishermen
- Chapter 9. General provisions
- Chapter 10. Special rules for deposits of shell sand, sand and gravel in areas near the coast
- Chapter 11. Entry into force and amendment of other acts
Section 1-1. Legislative purpose
This Act shall facilitate exploration for and extraction of mineral deposits on the Continental Shelf in accordance with societal objectives, in such a manner that safeguards considerations such as value creation, environment, safety, other business activity, as well as other interests.
Section 1-2. Scope and extent of the Act
This Act relates to activity associated with exploration for and extraction of mineral deposits on the seabed and the subsurface.
This Act does not apply to scientific research on seabed mineral deposits.
The King may issue regulations concerning the application of the Act as regards marine species, plants and genetic material that is extracted in the course of activities covered under the first paragraph.
The Act applies with the limitations that follow from treaties with foreign states or international law in general.
Section 1-3. Geographical scope of the Act
The Act applies to mineral deposits in Norway’s internal waters, Norway’s territorial waters and on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
Territorial waters means the sea area from the baselines out to twelve nautical miles as established pursuant to Act No. 57 of 27 June 2003 relating to Norway’s territorial waters and contiguous zone. Internal waters comprise the sea areas within the baselines. The Act does not apply to that part of the sea that is subject to private property rights.
By the continental shelf is meant the Norwegian continental shelf as stipulated by Act 18. June 2021 no 89.
The Act does not apply to activity associated with mineral deposits on the Norwegian Continental Shelf outside Queen Maud Land and Peter I Island or mineral activities in sea areas outside Norwegian jurisdiction, such as the international seabed area.
The King may issue regulations or stipulate in individual decisions that the Act shall also apply to the further processing of minerals from an extracted seabed mineral deposit that takes place on Norwegian land territory or sea territory subject to private property rights, when such processing is necessary for or constitutes an integral part of the extraction.
The King may issue regulations regarding the geographical scope of the Act.
Section 1-4. Right to mineral deposits and resource management
The property rights to mineral deposits on the Continental Shelf are vested in the Norwegian State, which also has the exclusive right to resource management.
Resource management is executed by the King in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
Section 1-5. Definitions
The following definitions apply in this Act:
a) mineral activities: all activity that is covered under Section 1-2 of this Act
b) facility: installation, plant and other equipment for mineral activities, including pipelines and cables unless otherwise specified, but not supply and support vessels or ships transporting minerals in bulk
c) survey: exploration for and mapping of mineral deposits for commercial purposes, including geological, geophysical, geochemical and geotechnical activities and operation and use of facilities to the extent they are used for survey activity
d) extraction: extraction of minerals from the seabed or the subsurface for commercial purposes, including processing on facilities, disposal of potential surplus material from operation and construction, placement, operation and use of the facilities that are necessary for extraction and transport of the minerals to facilities or ships for transportation
e) licensee: a physical person or body corporate whom, under this act or previous legislation, has been granted a licence to conduct surveys or extraction of mineral deposits or a special permit for installation and operation of facilities, a group of persons who together have been granted such licence, or a person who is part of such a group
f) operator: a licensee that is responsible for daily management of the mineral activity
Section 1-6. Licence requirement
None other than the State can conduct mineral activities on the Continental Shelf without a licence, approval or consent pursuant to this Act. The other provisions in the Act and the regulations laid down in pursuance thereof, apply to government mineral activities, as appropriate.
Section 1-7. Requirement for prudent mineral activities
Mineral activities under this Act shall take place in a prudent manner and in due consideration of safety of personnel, the environment and the financial values represented by facilities and vessels.
The mineral activity must not, unnecessarily or to an unreasonable extent, complicate or impede ship traffic, fishing, aviation or other activity, or cause damage or risk of damage to pipelines, cables or other subsea facilities. All reasonable precautions shall be taken to avoid damage to the diversity of nature in the sea, or cultural artefacts on the seabed, and to avoid pollution and littering.
Section 1-8. Mobile facilities under foreign flags
Other Norwegian acts than this Act and decisions made pursuant to other legislation do not apply to mobile facilities under foreign flags other than those that are permanently placed, unless otherwise follows from acts or stipulated by the King in Council.
Section 2-1. Opening areas for mineral activities
The King in Council can decide that a defined area on the Norwegian Continental Shelf shall be opened for mineral activities.
Prior to opening an area pursuant to the first paragraph, an impact assessment shall be conducted.
A draft decision to open a new area for mineral activities shall, with the associated impact assessment, be submitted for consultation. Stakeholders shall normally be given a time limit of at least three months for submitting statements.
Section 2-2. Impact assessment prior to opening
The Ministry is responsible for conducting an impact assessment prior to opening of new areas on the Continental Shelf for mineral activities.
The impact assessment shall contribute to shed light on the various interests that apply to the area in question, so that this can form a basis when decisions are made regarding whether, and on which terms, the area can be opened for mineral activities. The impact assessment shall highlight which effects a potential opening could have for the environment, as well as the expected impact on business, economic and social factors.
The King may issue regulations relating to impact assessments.
Section 2-3. Mineral activities in opened areas
A licence to conduct mineral activities may only be granted for areas that are opened pursuant to Section 2-1.
The King may decide that the requirements of this Act as regards the opening process can be made non-mandatory for mineral deposits located near the coast as stipulated in Chapter 10.
In special cases, the King in Council may grant a licence to conduct mineral activities in areas that are not comprised by the first paragraph.
Section 3-1. Application for and granting of survay licences
Subject to a written application, the Ministry may grant a survey licence to a physical person or body corporate.
Applications for a survey licence shall include a designation of the geographical area in question. The application must also provide an account of
a) in the form of a survey programme, which surveys one wants to conduct
b) the objective of the exploration, including the mineral deposits one wants to examine
c) planned start and end date for the surveys
d) where the surveys will be conducted within the geographical area.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding more detailed requirements for the content of the application.
The licence can be granted for all or parts of the area applied for and can stipulate the geographical coordinates for the area in question.
A survey licence may be granted for up to five years. If a survey licence is granted for a shorter period, the Ministry can subsequently extend the duration of the licence within the five-year time limit.
An application fee must be paid for applications for survey licences. The Ministry issues regulations regarding the amount of the fee.
The Ministry may issue regulations on, or stipulate in the respective licence, which terms shall apply to a licence, such as requirements relating to technology, mandatory safety measures and requirements to report activities.
Section 3-2. A survey licence does not give exclusive or preferential rights
A survey licence does not give exclusive rights to conduct surveys in the areas comprised by the licence, nor does it give preferential rights in connection with the granting of extraction licences.
The Ministry may grant extraction licences to others in areas that are covered by a survey licence.
A survey licence under this Act does not preclude
a) the granting of rights to conduct exploration for and production of petroleum deposits pursuant to the Petroleum Act
b) activity pursuant to Act No. 12 of 21 June 1963 relating to scientific research and exploration for and exploitation of subsea natural resources other than petroleum resources and mineral deposits
c) activity pursuant to the Marine Resources Act and the Nature Diversity Act
d) activity pursuant to the Offshore Energy Act.
A survey licence cannot be granted for areas that are included in extraction licences granted pursuant to Section 4-1. Exceptions can be made from the first sentence if the application for a survey licence relates to other minerals than those comprised by ongoing or planned extraction pursuant to an approved plan for extraction according to Section 4-4, and the licensee of the extraction licence consents to such activity.
Section 4-8 applies correspondingly to the right for other parties to place facilities in areas covered by a survey licence.
Section 3-3. Reports in connection with surveys, etc.
No later than five weeks before the activity under a survey licence is to start, the licensee shall submit a report to the Ministry, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the Norwegian Maritime Authority, the Directorate of Fisheries, the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Coastal Administration and the Ministry of Defence with information on
a) time, duration and exact information regarding the area affected by the surveys, with position lines
b) the survey methods to be applied
c) which vessel will be used
d) in which form the results of the survey will be made available.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding the submitting of reports in connection with surveys, e.g. regarding exceptions from the time limit in the first paragraph.
The Ministry may issue regulations mandating that vessels that conduct surveys for minerals, shall have on board and use equipment that monitors and reports vessel activity, such as satellite tracking equipment and voyage data recorder.
Section 4-1. Announcement and granting
The King may grant extraction licences pursuant to specific conditions. An extraction licence gives the licensee the exclusive right to conduct surveys for and extraction of all mineral deposits in the area covered by the licence.
Extraction licences can only be granted to bodies corporate that are formed in accordance with Norwegian legislation and are registered in the Register of Business Enterprises, unless otherwise follows from international treaties.
Prior to the granting of an extraction licence, the King shall publicly announce the area which is open for extraction licence applications. The announcement shall state the criteria that form the basis for licence granting, as well as the applicable time limits and terms. In special cases, the King may grant extraction licences without a prior announcement. Areas that are announced shall be specified with geographical coordinates. The coordinates are stipulated in accordance with Section 3-2 of the Petroleum Act.
The licence may be granted for all or parts of the area applied for. The King stipulates the geographical coordinates for the extraction licence.
The King may issue regulations, or stipulate in the respective licence, which terms shall apply to the licence, such as the scope of the work obligation that must be fulfilled, technology requirements, financial guarantees and mandatory safety measures.
Section 4-2. Application for granting of extraction licence
An application for an extraction licence must provide an account of
a) which mineral deposits are identified in the area
b) which minerals or mineral deposits will be extracted
c) known resource potential, as appropriate
d) the geographical area sought in the licence
e) applicant’s financial means
f) applicant’s technological expertise and technical capacity
g) the proposed development solution
h) all other information that is necessary to make a decision on the application.
The Ministry may issue regulations with more detailed requirements as regards the content of the application.
An application fee must be paid for an extraction licence application. The Ministry issues regulations regarding the amount of the fee.
Section 4-3. Work obligation and work programme
An application for an extraction licence shall be accompanied by a proposed work programme. The programme shall cover the period up to the date when the extraction plan is submitted.
The King may require that licensees carry out a specific work obligation for the area covered by the extraction licence. The content and scope of the work obligation and the time limit for completion are stipulated by the King in the respective extraction licence. Unless a shorter time limit is set, the work obligation must be fulfilled within the period stipulated according to Section 4-5 (1).
The King may, subject to application, make exceptions from or amend the work obligation.
Section 4-4. Plan for extraction of mineral deposits
If a licensee in an extraction licence decides to extract a mineral deposit, the licensee shall submit a plan for extraction of the mineral deposit to the Ministry for approval. This plan shall be adapted to the scope of the activity and contain a description of the extraction and an impact assessment. Upon application and in special cases, the Ministry may, in whole or in part, waive the requirement for a plan for extraction.
The description of the extraction shall e.g. provide an account of the technical solutions and the economic, resource-related, technical and safety factors associated with the development and the operation. In addition, the impact assessment shall include commercial and environmental factors, such as preventive and remedial measures, and information about how a facility can be decommissioned upon cessation of the mineral activity.
The plan shall also include information about facilities for transport or processing that are covered under Section 4-7, and provide information about which licences, etc. have been applied for pursuant to other legislation.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding detailed requirements for a plan for extraction.
If extraction is planned in two or more stages, the plan shall cover the overall extraction insofar as possible. The Ministry may limit its approval to specific stages.
No significant contractual obligations shall be entered into and no construction work shall be started until a plan for extraction is approved, unless the Ministry consents to this.
In a separate document, the Ministry shall provide an account and explanation of the decision to approve or not approve a plan for extraction. The Ministry’s reasons shall e.g. indicate which environmental criteria may be linked to the approval, and which measures may be presumed to mitigate significant negative impacts on the environment. The document shall be published, with the exception of any confidential information, as appropriate.
The Ministry shall be notified about and approve significant deviations or changes in the preconditions for a submitted or approved plan and significant changes regarding facilities. The Ministry may require that a new or amended plan be submitted for approval.
Section 4-5. Duration of an extraction licence
An extraction licence is granted for up to ten years. If the extraction licence is granted for a shorter period, the Ministry may subsequently extend the duration of the licence within the ten-year time limit.
Licensees that have fulfilled the work obligation pursuant to Section 4-3, and the terms that otherwise apply to the respective extraction licence, may apply for an extension of the extraction licence beyond the period that is set pursuant to the first paragraph. In the assessment of whether an extension shall be granted, the Ministry shall consider the likelihood that a plan for extraction will be submitted to the Ministry for approval by the end of the extension period. Extensions may be granted for periods of up to five years. The Ministry can stipulate a new work obligation and new terms in connection with the extension. The rules regarding work obligations in Section 4-3 apply correspondingly to work obligations according to the fourth sentence.
When a plan for extraction is submitted to the Ministry for approval, the licensee is entitled, upon application, to have the extraction licence extended by up to 20 years. Upon application from the licensee, the Ministry may decide on further extensions subject always to the extraction being carried out in accordance with an approved extraction plan.
If extraction is not initiated within five years after the plan for extraction was approved, the extraction licence will lapse. The same applies if initiated extraction is suspended for more than two years. The Ministry may extend the time limit under the first and second sentences if it can be substantiated that the extraction will be commenced or resumed within a reasonable period of time.
Section 4-6. Relinquishment of areas
The Ministry shall, upon the granting of an extraction licence, stipulate what share of the area covered by the licence for which the licensee may require an extension pursuant to Section 4-5, third paragraph. The Ministry may, upon application, consent to the licensee retaining more than the area stipulated upon award.
The licensee may, upon three months’ notice and with effect from the subsequent calendar year, relinquish all or parts of the area covered by an extraction licence. The Ministry may require that the terms for the licence, and the obligations that follow therefrom, must be fulfilled before relinquishing parts of the area or surrendering the extraction licence.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding the delimitation of areas that are relinquished pursuant to the first and second paragraphs.
Section 4-7. Specific licence to install and operate facilities
The Ministry may, on more specific terms, grant licences to install and operate facilities on the Continental Shelf when the right to install and operate does not follow from an approved plan for extraction.
Licences pursuant to the first paragraph are granted for a specific period and may, upon application from the licensee, be extended by the Ministry.
Section 4-8. Right for other parties to place facilities, etc.
Licensees cannot object to other parties laying pipelines, cables or other types of wires, or placing other facilities on, in or over the area covered by an extraction licence. Such facilities must not cause unreasonable disadvantage for the licensee, and cannot be placed within the safety zone stipulated by the Ministry pursuant to Section 6-3.
The provisions in the first paragraph apply correspondingly to necessary route and seabed surveys for such placement.
Section 4-9. Other natural resources than minerals, etc.
An extraction licence under this Act does not prevent other parties than the licensee from being granted the right to conduct surveys for and production of petroleum pursuant to the Petroleum Act, when this does not entail an unreasonable disadvantage to the mineral activity of the licensee pursuant to the extraction licence. The same applies to
a) activity pursuant to Act No. 12 of 21 June 1963 relating to scientific research and exploration for and exploitation of subsea natural resources other than petroleum resources and mineral deposits
b) activity pursuant to the Marine Resources Act and the Nature Diversity Act
c) activity pursuant to the Offshore Energy Act.
If petroleum is discovered in an area covered by an extraction licence under this Act, and continued petroleum activity cannot take place without entailing unreasonable disadvantage for the mineral activity the licensee conducts pursuant to the extraction licence, the King shall determine which of the activities shall be postponed and if so, to what extent. Such decisions shall take into consideration the type of discovery made, investments undertaken, the stage the activity has reached, the activity’s duration and scope and its economic and societal significance.
Parties who have had their activity postponed are entitled, upon application, to have the licence extended for a period of time corresponding to the postponement. If the postponement only relates to a limited part of the activity to be conducted pursuant to the licence, the Ministry may determine a shorter extension or decide that the extension not be granted, or be granted only for a part of the area covered by the licence.
If the postponement entails that the work obligation pursuant to Section 4-3 cannot be completed within the set time limit, the time limit shall be extended as necessary.
If the mineral activity is postponed, the area fee for the period of such postponement shall be waived.
If a postponement pursuant to the second paragraph must be presumed to be particularly lengthy, the licence may be recalled instead.
By means of individual decisions, the King may decide that parties that are allowed to maintain their activity, shall refund accrued costs in whole or in part, and to a reasonable extent also cover other loss for parties that must postpone, restrict or suspend their activity
Section 4-10. Ownership rights to produced minerals
The licensee under the production licence becomes the owner of the minerals that are produced when they are brought up from the seabed to the sea surface.
Section 4-11. Prudent extraction
Extraction must take place in accordance with prudent technical, environmental and healthy economic principles, and in such manner as to avoid unnecessary loss of minerals. To achieve this, the licensee must continuously assess the extraction strategy and technical solutions, and implement necessary measures.
Section 4-12. Coordinated activity and use of facilities by others
If it makes sense to coordinate the extraction of mineral deposits for which different licensees have an extraction licence, licensees shall seek to agree on the most efficient coordination of the mineral activity. Agreements on coordination of mineral activities are subject to approval by the Ministry. If such agreement is not reached within a reasonable time, the Ministry may decide how such coordinated mineral activities shall be implemented.
The Ministry may determine that facilities covered under Sections 4-4 and 4-7, and that are owned or used by a licensee, can be used by others if consideration for efficient operation or societal considerations so warrant, and the Ministry finds that such use is not unreasonably detrimental to a licensee’s own needs, or to a party that is already entitled to use the facility.
An agreement on the use of facilities covered under Sections 4-4 and 4-7 shall be submitted to the Ministry for approval, unless otherwise decided by the Ministry. The Ministry may, in connection with the approval of an agreement according to the first sentence, or if accord is not reached on such agreement within a reasonable period of time, as well as in connection with orders pursuant to the second paragraph, stipulate tariffs and other terms, or subsequently amend the terms that have been agreed, approved or stipulated, to ensure that projects are implemented on the basis of resource management considerations and that the owner of the facility is given a reasonable profit, based e.g. on investment and risk.
Section 4-13. Extraction licence with multiple licensees
The Ministry may, upon application, decide that multiple licensees can be participants in an extraction licence and may, upon award determine that an extraction licence shall be shared between multiple licensees.
If an extraction licence is shared among multiple licensees, the Ministry appoints one of them as operator. Change of operator is subject to approval by the Ministry.
The Ministry may require as a condition for the granting of an extraction licence that the licensees shall enter into agreements with a specific content that regulate the cooperation in the extraction licence.
Section 4-14. Transfer of licence, etc.
A full or partial transfer of an extraction licence or a licence to install and operate facilities can only take place subject to the consent of the Ministry. The same applies for other direct or indirect transfers of ownership interests or participation in the licence, such as transfer of shareholdings and other assets that can render a controlling interest over a licensee holding a participating interest in a licence.
A transfer of the licensee’s ownership rights to permanent facilities can only take place subject to the consent of the Ministry.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding the terms that can be stipulated in cases pursuant to the first and second paragraphs.
Section 4-15. Fee to the International Seabed Authority
Mineral activities outside 200 nautical miles may be subject to a fee to the International Seabed Authority. The Ministry issues regulations regarding the amount of the fee, how it shall be calculated and as regards collection of the fee.
Claims for fees pursuant to the first paragraph with the addition of interest and costs shall constitute a basis for enforcement of debt.
Section 4-16. Landing of minerals
The Ministry may, by means of individual decisions or regulation, determine where and how landing of minerals shall take place.
Section 5-1. Clean-up obligation
The licensee shall ensure prudent clean-up while the work is undertaken and after it has ended, and shall carry out measures as determined by the Ministry as regards clean-up and cessation.
Section 5-2. Decommissioning plan
Unless the Ministry decides or consents otherwise, the licensee shall present a decommissioning plan to the Ministry no later than two years before a licence pursuant to Sections 4-1 or 4-7 expires or is surrendered, or use of a facility finally ends. The licensee shall report to the Ministry regarding the cessation date if the use of a facility is presumed to cease before the licence expires.
A decommissioning plan shall, as appropriate, include a proposal for continued extraction or shutdown of extraction and disposal of facilities. Such disposal can e.g. be continued use in the mineral activity, other use, full or partial removal or abandonment. The plan shall contain a description of the disposal, an impact assessment and the information and assessments deemed necessary to make a decision pursuant to Section 5-3. The Ministry may request additional information and assessments, or require a new or amended plan. The Ministry may issue regulations regarding detailed requirements for a decommissioning plan.
The Ministry may, in special cases, waive the requirement to submit a decommissioning plan.
In the event of a licence recall, the provisions in the first to third paragraphs apply, as appropriate.
Section 5-3. Decision regarding disposal
The Ministry shall make decisions regarding disposal and set a time limit for implementing the decision. The assessment forming the basis for the decision shall, among others, emphasise technical, safety-related, environmental and economic aspects, as well as consideration for other users of the sea.
The licensee and the owner of a facility are obliged to ensure that decisions regarding disposal are carried out, unless the Ministry decides otherwise. The obligation to carry out the disposal decision applies even if the disposal decision is made or will be carried out after expiry of the licence.
If a licence or an interest in a licence is transferred pursuant to Section 4-14, the transferring licensee shall be secondarily financially liable vis-à-vis the other licensees for the costs associated with carrying out a disposal decision. The transferring licensee shall also be secondarily liable vis-à-vis the State if expenses associated with the Ministry’s decision on measures pursuant to the sixth paragraph are not covered by the licensee or another liable party. The financial responsibility pursuant to the first and second sentences is calculated on the basis of the size of the transferred interest and shall be claimed from the transferring licensee after deduction of the tax value of the costs incurred to carry out the disposal decision. The obligations of the transferring licensee shall continue to exist as regards subsequent transfers of the interest or parts thereof, although such claim shall first be directed to the company that most recently transferred the interest. The financial liability is limited to costs related to facilities that existed as at the transfer date. The same applies to the transferring owner in connection with a full or partial transfer of ownership interests in the licensee.
If a facility is transferred pursuant to Section 4-14, the licensee and the owner are jointly obliged to ensure that the disposal decision is carried out, unless the Ministry decides otherwise.
If the disposal decision entails that the facility will continue to be used in the mineral activity or for some other use the licensee, the owner and the user are jointly obliged to ensure that future decisions regarding disposal are carried out, unless the Ministry decides otherwise.
If a decision regarding disposal is not carried out within the stipulated time limit, the Ministry may implement the necessary measures on behalf of the licensee or another liable party, and for their account and risk. Expenses associated with such measures are a basis for enforcement of debt.
Section 5-4. Liability
Parties who are obliged to carry out a disposal decision pursuant to Section 5-3, are liable for any damage or disadvantage caused deliberately or negligently in connection with disposal of the facility or other implementation of the decision.
If the decision entails abandonment, the licensee or the owner are liable for any damage or disadvantage caused deliberately or negligently in connection with the abandoned facility, unless the Ministry decides otherwise.
If there are multiple liable parties pursuant to the first or second paragraph, they are jointly and severally liable for financial obligations, unless the Ministry decides otherwise.
In connection with an abandonment decision, agreement can be reached between the licensees and the owner and the State that future maintenance and liability shall be taken over by the State in return for a financial compensation agreed by contract.
Section 5-5. Encumbrances
If the State demands the removal of a facility, any encumbrances thereon will lapse. The same applies if the State takes over the facility pursuant to Section 5-6, but then any rights of use established with the Ministry’s consent shall nevertheless continue to exist.
Section 5-6. Takeover by the State
The State has the right to take over a licensee’s fixed facilities on the Continental Shelf when the licence expires, is surrendered or recalled, or when the use of such facilities finally ends. The King determines with binding effect whether and to what extent compensation shall be paid for such takeover.
If the State has indicated that it will exercise its right to take over fixed facilities, such takeover will become effective six months after the licence expires or lapses in some other manner, or if the use of the facility has finally ceased, unless otherwise agreed, or the Ministry determines otherwise.
In the event of a takeover by the State, the facility with appurtenant equipment shall be in such condition as is indicated by prudent maintenance for operational functionality. Disputes concerning this and regarding the compensation that will potentially be paid to the State for deficient maintenance, shall be decided by means of discretion.
Section 6-1. Safety
Mineral activities shall be conducted such that a high level of safety can be maintained and further developed in line with the technological development. The King may issue regulations regarding safety in the mineral activity.
Section 6-2. Emergency preparedness
The licensee and others taking part in the mineral activity shall at all times maintain effective emergency preparedness with a view to handling hazardous and accident situations that can entail a loss of human life or other personal injury, pollution or significant material damage. The licensee is obliged to ensure that necessary measures are implemented to prevent or minimise harmful effects, including what is necessary to restore the environment to its state prior to the accident, to the extent possible. The Ministry may issue regulations regarding emergency preparedness and measures pursuant to the first and second sentence. This can include orders that several licensees cooperate with regard to emergency preparedness.
In the event of hazardous and accident situations as mentioned in the first paragraph, the Ministry may determine that others shall make the necessary emergency preparedness resources available at the licensee’s expense. The Ministry may, for the licensee’s expense, also implement measures to secure the necessary additional resources in some other manner.
The rules in Chapter 5 of Act No. 7 of 15 December 1950 relating to special measures in time of war, threat of war and similar circumstances shall apply correspondingly, as appropriate.
Section 6-3. Safety zones, etc.
There shall be a safety zone around and above facilities on the Continental Shelf, unless the Ministry decides otherwise. The Ministry may establish or expand safety zones in hazardous and accident situations. The extent of zones as mentioned in the first and second sentences is determined by the King. The first and second sentences do not apply to pipelines and cables.
The King may issue regulations or make individual decisions to the effect that a safety zone shall extend across the delimitation line to another state’s continental shelf. Furthermore, the King may decide that there shall be a safety zone on the Norwegian Continental Shelf even if the facility in question is placed outside this.
The Ministry may issue regulations or make individual decisions to the effect that a zone equivalent to the safety zone shall be established at a time reasonably in advance of placement of facilities as mentioned in the first paragraph.
The Ministry may issue regulations or make decisions to the effect that there shall be a safety zone around and over abandoned or dumped facilities or parts of such facilities.
Unauthorised vessels, hovercraft, aircraft, fishing tools or other objects must not be located within a zone as mentioned in the first through fourth paragraphs. If fishing can take place in the zone or parts of the zone without threatening the safety or preventing the exercise of the mineral activity, the Ministry may nevertheless issue regulations or make individual decisions to the effect that such fishing is permitted.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding access for facilities as mentioned in the first paragraph to zones as mentioned in the third paragraph, and regarding marking and other measures out of consideration for navigation.
Section 6-4. Suspension
In the event of hazardous and accident situations as mentioned in Section 6-2, the licensee or others who are responsible for the operation and use of the facility, shall suspend the activity to the extent necessary as required to ensure prudent activity.
Section 6-5. Qualifications
The licensee and others that take part in mineral activities, shall have the necessary qualifications to carry out the work in a prudent manner. Training shall take place as necessary.
The licensee is also obliged to ensure that anyone who performs work for him complies with the provisions in the first paragraph.
Section 7-1. Registration of licences
The Ministry shall keep a register of all extraction licences granted pursuant to this Act. The register shall be called the Seabed Minerals Register. The Ministry may issue regulations to the effect that the register shall also include licences granted pursuant to Section 4-7.
Each licence will have its own page in the register. The Ministry will keep a journal containing the documents to be registered, and may issue regulations concerning how the journal and the register shall be organised and kept, any reporting obligations for the licensee in connection with transfers and other changes concerning the licence, and the general procedure regarding registration. Regulations may also be issued as regards the collection of fees.
Chapters 2 and 3 of the Land Registration Act apply correspondingly, as appropriate, and otherwise do not follow from this Act or regulations issued pursuant to the Act.
Section 7-2. Mortgaging licences
The Ministry may consent to a licensee mortgaging an entire licence, or that the individual licensee mortgages its share of a licence as part of financing the activity linked to the licence. In special cases, the Ministry may consent to the financing comprising activity in another licence than the one that is mortgaged.
A mortgage according to the first paragraph has legal protection when registered in the Seabed Minerals Register.
Section 7-3. Scope of mortgage rights, etc.
In connection with mortgaging of entire licences pursuant to Section 7-2, the mortgage right encompasses the rights that follow from the licence at any given time, and the mortgagor’s other rights associated with the activity that is carried out in accordance with the licence.
The mortgage right does not include rights in facilities that are registered in another assets register, or rights in facilities placed on land or sea territory that is subject to private property rights.
The mortgage right also does not include rights in mobile construction machinery that can be mortgaged pursuant to Section 3-8 of the Mortgage Act, or rights in other movables that can be registered in another assets register. The rules in Sections 3-4 and 3-7 of the Mortgage Act apply correspondingly, as appropriate.
In the event of mortgage of an interest in a licence pursuant to Section 7-2, the mortgage right includes the mortgagor’s undivided interest in the property associated with the licence at any given time and the mortgagor’s other rights in connection with activity carried out pursuant to the licence.
Section 7-4. Mortgagee’s rights, etc.
The Ministry shall give a mortgagee a written notification of a recall or surrender of a licence or part thereof, with the information that the mortgage right lapses if a petition for compulsory sale is not made without undue delay. If the petition for compulsory sale is timely, no new licence can be issued in conflict with the mortgagee’s rights.
A mortgage right as mentioned in the first paragraph cannot be transferred or mortgaged without the Ministry’s consent. In the absence of such consent, it also cannot be subject to distraint, seizure or debt negotiation, nor can it be included in mortgagee’s bankrupt estate.
Section 8-1. Substantive scope and definitions
This Chapter relates to compensation for financial loss that a mineral activity inflicts upon Norwegian fishermen as a consequence of the fact that the activity occupies fishing grounds, or entails pollution or waste, or that a facility or measures in connection with placement of a facility cause harm.
Pollution and waste in this Chapter shall be interpreted as in Section 6, first subsection, Nos. 1 and 2 and Section 27, first paragraph of the Pollution Control Act.
In this Chapter, Norwegian fishermen means persons enrolled in the Norwegian fisherman census and owners of vessels enrolled in the register of Norwegian fishing vessels subject to registration requirements.
Section 8-2. Occupation
If the mineral activity in an area wholly or partly occupies fishing ground, the State shall compensate the financial loss this entails to the extent that fishing becomes impossible or is significantly complicated.
The compensation can be stipulated in whole or in part as a lump sum or as a fixed annual sum. Compensation cannot be claimed for loss that arises more than seven years after the area occupation occurred.
The State can demand recourse from the licensee if the licensee should have averted the loss.
Section 8-3. Liability for pollution and waste
The licensee is strictly liable for financial loss resulting from pollution and waste from the mineral activity, costs for reasonable expenses to avert or limit such damage or such loss, and for damage or loss resulting from such measures.
The licensee’s liability pursuant to the first paragraph also comprises damage and disadvantage from pollution and waste as a result of supply or standby vessel traffic and in connection with moving a facility to or from the field in question. The licensee can claim recourse against the direct tort feasor or the shipping company if the other criteria for liability are fulfilled.
In order to claim compensation for lost catch time in connection with locating, marking, retrieving or landing of objects, the objects must be properly labelled or brought to land and presented to the police, harbour authority or other comparable public authority, unless there are absolute obstacles that preclude this. In any event, the position must be reported to the police or the harbour authority.
The third paragraph also applies in connection with compensation for other loss, if such marking, position report or landing can reasonably be required.
The liability for compensation also includes other vessels that assist a fishing vessel in bringing objects to shore.
Section 8-4. Joint and several liability
If harm has been caused as mentioned in Section 8-3 and the tort feasor cannot be identified, the licensees shall be jointly and severally liable to the extent it is likely that the harm could have been caused by mineral activities in connection with the relevant party’s licence.
Section 8-5. Facility, etc. that causes harm
If harm is caused by a facility or in connection with the placement of a facility, and the claimant is not entitled to compensation pursuant to the provisions in Section 8-2, the licensee is strictly liable for the financial loss the fishermen suffer as a consequence of said harm.
Section 8-6. Board, etc.
Claims that are filed pursuant to this Chapter shall be processed by a Board. The King issues regulations regarding the Board’s composition and case processing, and regarding the appeal process in the event of appeals of the Board’s decisions.
Within two months after the relevant party has been informed of the decision, the appeal body’s decision can, by means of a writ, be brought directly before the district court.
Claims stipulated by the Board or the appeal body constitute a basis for enforcement of debt after the appeal time limit or the time limit in the second paragraph has expired.
If the time limit in the second paragraph is exceeded, the appeal body can, pursuant to the rules in Section 31 of the Public Administration Act, decide that the case be processed by the district court. Decisions relating to failure to comply with time limits can be appealed to the district court.
Section 9-1. Regulatory supervision
The Ministry carries out supervision to ensure that the provisions laid down in or pursuant to this Act are observed by all who conduct mineral activities covered by the Act.
The supervisory authority can issue the orders that are necessary to carry out the provisions laid down in or pursuant to this Act.
The supervisory authority shall at all times have access to all facilities for conducting the supervisory activity, including ships that are used for mineral activities.
Expenses associated with supervision can be claimed from the licensee or the party towards whom the supervision is directed or is taking place.
Section 9-2. Obligation to insure, to provide security, etc.
The activity that the licensee carries out according to the Act shall at all times be insured. The licensee shall take out reasonable insurance coverage based on the consideration for risk exposure and premium costs.
When granting licences under this Act, or at any later point in time, the Ministry may determine that the licensee shall furnish such security as the Ministry approves, for fulfilment of the obligations the licensee has assumed in connection with mineral activities pursuant to this Act and for potential liability.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding requirements for insurance coverage and furnishing security.
Section 9-3. Obligation to comply with the Act and ensure that provisions are observed
The licensee and others participating in mineral activities under this Act are obliged to implement systematic measures to ensure compliance with the Act, regulations issued in accordance with this Act and individual decisions made pursuant to the Act.
The licensee is also obliged to ensure that any party performing work for him, either personally, through employees or through contractors or subcontractors, complies with the provisions laid down in or pursuant to the Act.
Section 9-4. Liability for obligations
Licensees that hold a licence together, are jointly and severally liable vis-à-vis the State for financial obligations that follow from mineral activities pursuant to the Act.
Section 9-5. Liability for tortious acts
If a party performing assignments for a licensee becomes liable for compensation vis-à-vis a third party, the licensee is liable for the compensation claim to the same extent and in joint and several liability with the tort feasor and his employer, as applicable.
The licensee is strictly liable for compensation for pollution damage. Otherwise, the rules in Chapter 8 of the Pollution Control Act shall apply, as appropriate.
Section 9-6. Compulsory fines
To ensure that the provisions of the Act or individual decisions made pursuant to the Act are carried out, the Ministry may make decisions regarding compulsory fines.
The compulsory fine can be stipulated when a violation of the Act or a decision is detected and starts to run, if the responsible party exceeds the time limit for rectifying the matter. If special reasons so indicate, a compulsory fine can be stipulated in advance, and will run as from when a potential violation commences.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding compulsory fines, such as the size and duration of the compulsory fine, stipulation of compulsory fines and waiver of accrued compulsory fines.
Section 9-7. Fine for violations
The Ministry can order the party that has violated provisions of this Act, to pay a fine for violation to the Treasury. Physical persons can only be subject to fines for deliberate or negligent violations. An enterprise cannot be subject to fines for violations if the violation is due to circumstances beyond the control of the enterprise.
The Ministry may issue regulations relating to fines for violations, such as regarding criteria for imposing fines, the size of the fine, interest and additional fines if the fine for violation is not paid on the due date, and waiver of imposed fines.
Section 9-8. Temporary suspension of activity
If a licensee does not comply with an order concerning measures issued in or pursuant to the Act, the Ministry may demand temporary suspension of the activity.
The Ministry may enact temporary suspension of the activity if this is necessary to avert imminent danger.
The licensee may be required to cover the expenses required to suspend the activity. A claim for coverage of such expenses constitutes a basis for enforcement of debt.
Section 9-9. Amendment and recall of licence, etc.
The Ministry can repeal, withdraw, amend the terms in or set new terms for a licence pursuant to this Act or a regulation issued in accordance with the Act if
a) there is a gross or repeated violation of provisions laid down in or pursuant to this Act
b) the licensee does not comply with an order to correct or suspend the issue that is in conflict with provisions laid down in or pursuant to this Act or decisions made in accordance with this Act
c) the licence is issued on the basis of incorrect or incomplete information regarding circumstances of significance
d) significant preconditions that formed the basis for the licence have lapsed
e) the guarantee the licensee is obliged to furnish pursuant to Section 9-2 is substantially impaired, or the company or group holding the licence is dissolved or is taken under creditor composition or bankruptcy proceedings.
An amendment or recall of a licence pursuant to the first paragraph can be made temporary. Temporary amendments or recalls can be stipulated on the basis of rectification or change of specific factors.
In decisions made under this paragraph, consideration shall both be given to the financial loss and the disadvantages that must be expected to be inflicted upon the holder of the licence due to an amendment or a recall, and to the advantages and disadvantages that the amendment or the recall will entail.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding the amendment and recall of licences.
Section 9-10. Consequences of recall, surrender of rights or lapse for other reasons
A recall of a licence, surrender of rights or lapse of rights for other reasons do not constitute a release from the financial obligations that follow from this Act, regulations issued pursuant to the Act or individual decisions with special conditions stipulated pursuant to the Act. If a work obligation or other obligation is not fulfilled, the Ministry may claim payment, in full or in part, of the cost of fulfilling the obligation. The amount is stipulated with binding effect by the Ministry.
If a licence that is linked to an established facility is withdrawn, a time limit must be set to ensure that the facility is taken over by a party that can lawfully conduct the activity.
If an extraction licence is withdrawn, the Ministry may announce the extraction licence to obtain applications from other interested parties or order a time limit for transfer. In the event of announcement, the rules of Chapter 4 for processing applications shall apply, as appropriate.
Section 9-11. Reporting requirements and data collection, etc.
The Ministry may require that material and information owned or prepared by a licensee, operator, contractor or subcontractor in relation to planning and implementing mineral activities pursuant to this Act, shall be available in Norway. The Ministry may also require that this be handed over to the Ministry or the party designated by the Ministry, free of charge. The handover shall, to a reasonable extent, take place in the format determined by the Ministry.
The licensee shall, free of charge, send samples of the minerals extracted from the seabed to the Ministry or the party designated by the Ministry. The Ministry may issue regulations or make individual decisions to the effect that equivalent rules shall apply to biological material. The State will assume ownership rights to the submitted material.
The licensee shall send the following material, free of charge, to the Ministry, or the party designated by the Ministry
a) reports from surveys as soon as they are available, and no later than three months after the surveys is concluded
b) copies of data, samples and results, and the interpretations thereof
c) information regarding extraction of minerals, the volume extracted, and a description of the mineral content
d) information regarding resale of minerals and the sales value.
The Ministry may issue regulations regarding which material shall be available to the authorities, what shall be handed over, when the material shall at the latest be available or handed over, and which information shall be provided to public authorities before the mineral activity begins, and after it has started.
Section 9-12. Duty of confidentiality
The Ministry may issue regulations or make individual decisions to the effect that anyone who performs services or work for an administrative body, is obliged to prevent others from gaining access to or knowledge of what he may learn in connection with the service, or the work as regards geological conditions in material or in information as mentioned in Section 9-11, second and third paragraphs, and may stipulate the duration of such a duty of confidentiality.
The Ministry may issue regulations or make individual decisions to the effect that information of any kind that is reported to the authorities in connection with an application for an extraction licence shall be subject to a duty of confidentiality, as well as the duration of such a duty of confidentiality.
Regulations or individual decisions laid down pursuant to this Section shall not prevent the Ministry from making general statements regarding the activity and the possibility of finding mineral deposits, or from using information in preparation of general maps, or for statistical purposes. Such regulations or individual decisions shall also not prevent the exchange of information as stipulated in Act No. 15 of 3 June 1994 relating to the Central Coordinating Register of Legal Entities and Act No. 35 of 6 June 1997 relating to the Register of Reporting Obligations of Enterprises or other mandatory exchange of information with public agencies.
Section 9-13. Right of access to information, etc.
The provisions of Section 18, first paragraph of the Public Administration Act regarding a party’s right to acquaint himself with documents in the case do not apply in cases relating to applications for extraction licences under this Act.
Section 9-14. Penal provisions
Wilful or negligent violation of provisions, orders, prohibitions or terms issued in or pursuant to Sections 1-6, 4-16, 5-1, 5-3, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 or 6-4 are penalised with fines or imprisonment for up to two years, unless the violation falls under a stricter penal clause.
Section 9-15. Information regarding payments
The Ministry may issue regulations requiring licensees and administrative agencies to provide information regarding payments to or from the State in connection with the mineral activity. Administrative agencies can be ordered to provide such information without impediment due to the duty of confidentiality. The information can be published both by the provider and the recipient of the information.
Section 10-1. Adjustments for deposits near the coast
The King may issue regulations as regards the degree to which the provisions of this Act shall apply to surveys and extraction of deposits of shell sand, sand and gravel in the area from the shore slope and out to one nautical mile from the baselines. This may also include exemptions from the Act.
Section 10-2. County authority’s competence
The county authority may grant licences for surveys or extraction of shell sand, sand and gravel in the area mentioned in Section 10-1.
Section 11-1. Entry into force, etc.
This Act enters into force as from the date1 determined by the King.
For licences granted before the entry into force of this Act, the Act shall apply to the extent the provisions are not in conflict with the already granted licence.
1 From 1 July 2019 according to Resolution No. 264 of 22 March 2019.
Section 11-2. Amendments in other acts
As from the date of entry into force of this Act, the following amendments are made in other acts:
The following amendments shall be made to Act No. 12 of 21 June 1963 relating to scientific research and surveys for and exploitation of subsea natural resources:
The title of the Act shall be:
Act relating to scientific research and exploration for and exploitation of other subsea natural resources than petroleum deposits and mineral deposits.
Section 1, first and second paragraphs shall read:
This Act relates to scientific research of the seabed and the subsurface and exploration for and exploitation of other subsea natural resources than petroleum deposits and mineral deposits in Norwegian internal waters, in Norwegian territorial waters and on the Continental Shelf. The Continental Shelf means the seabed and the subsurface in the subsea areas that extend beyond Norwegian territorial waters through the entire natural extension of the land territory to the outer edge of the continental margin, but not less than 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the width of the territorial waters is measured, but not beyond the median line in relation to another state, unless other rules follow from international law for continental shelves outside 200 nautical miles from the baselines, or from a treaty with the relevant state.
The King may issue regulations regarding activity covered by this Act.
The current Section 1, second and third paragraphs, will become the third and new fourth paragraphs.
Section 2, third paragraph is repealed.
Section 3 shall read:
Section 3. All scientific research of the seabed and the subsurface requires a licence from the Ministry or the party designated by the Ministry. Specific terms can be set for such licences.
In Act No. 83 of 21 June 1985 relating unlimited liability partnerships and limited partnerships, Section 1-1, fourth paragraph shall read:
This Act does not apply to shipping partnerships under Chapter 5 of the Maritime Act. Nor does it apply to cooperation agreements relating to licences issued under Section 4-3 of Act No. 72 of 29 November 1996 relating to petroleum activities and cooperation agreements with legal basis in the Act’s Section 3-3 (4) and Section 4-7, cf. Section 4-3, and comparable agreements entered into before the Petroleum Act entered into force or cooperation agreements linked to licences issued pursuant to Sections 3-1 and 4-1, cf. Section 4-7 of the Seabed Minerals Act.
In Act No. 101 of 19 June 2009 relating to the acquisition and extraction of mineral resources, Section 4 shall read:
Section 4. Geographical scope
The Act applies on Norwegian territory, with the exception of Svalbard.
At sea, the Act does not apply outside the boundaries of private property. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Act applies to activities with the objective of extracting mineral deposits from entry points on land, but where the mineral deposit extends out under the seabed.
Last amended by Act 18 June 2021 No 89.
Last translated 16. July 2021
English version is not necessarily updated according to recent changes at any time.