The oil ministry on Monday offered oil companies a record 48 exploration licenses for 85 offshore blocks, most near existing fields that Norway hopes will stimulate future production.
Norway, the world’s third largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Russia, began offering unexplored blocks near existing, or mature, finds in 2003 in what it calls Awards in Predefined Areas. The Nordic country hopes small finds near existing fields will help counter declining oil production.
The award was for 34 licenses in the North Sea, 12 in the Norwegian Sea and two in the Barents Sea, in Arctic waters that Norway sees as key to maintaining its oil flows in the future.
“It is important to develop the Barents Sea as a petroleum province,” said Oil Minister Odd Roger Enoksen.
The minister said the predefined area system provides opportunities for new, smaller oil companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Eight of the 33 companies offered shares on the new blocks were new to Norway.
High crude oil prices and technological advances can help make it economically viable to develop small oil finds, especially if they can be linked into existing platforms and oil pipelines at sharply reduced cost.
An oil ministry statement said companies offered operatorships were: BG Norge AS, Centrica Resources Norge AS, Norske ConocoPhillips AS, Endeavour Energy Norge AS, E.ON Ruhrgas Norge AS, Gaz de France Norge AS, Lundin Norway AS, Nexen Exploration Norge AS, Norsk Hydro Produksjon AS, NORECO AS, OMV Norge AS, Pertra AS, Petro-Canada Norge AS, Premier Oil Norge AS, Revus Energy AS, RWE Dea Norge AS, Statoil ASA, Talisman, Total E&P Norge AS.
In addition, companies were offered shares in blocks operated by others. Many of the companies are the Norwegian branches of international oil companies.