By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Dec. 13 -- Norway has launched its 17th licensing round on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, offering 32 whole or partial blocks.
Applications for the round are due Mar. 18. Tracts will be awarded during the second quarter.
The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said in the future, it will hold licensing rounds in the Norwegian Sea biennially.
It said the 17th round will include tracts in deep water as well as blocks near the coast.
"The government will continue the policy of a gradual progression in the exploration activity. In the selection of blocks and the decision of the extent of the 17th round special attention have been given to the need for gradual exploration.
"By giving the companies predictability regarding future access to new areas, the authorities are contributing to securing a sound resource management of the Norwegian Continental Shelf. In this way we can secure employment opportunities," it said.
The ministry said it would develop offshore assets in balance with environmental concerns and fisheries management.
The full and partial blocks are: 6305/3, 6305/6; 6306/1, 6306/4; 6405/4, 6405/7, 6405/10; 6504/6; 6505/1, 6505/2, 6505/4, 6505/5; 6605/4, 6605/5, 6605/7, 6605/8, 6605/9; 6606/7; 6607/5, 6607/6, 6607/8, 6607/9, 6607/11, 6607/12; 6608/4, 6608/11, 6608/12; 6609/4, 6609/5, 6609/6, 6609/10, and 6609/12.
"We had expected a more extensive round," said Kent H�gseth, Statoil ASA's 17th-round project manager. "A number of the attractive gas blocks in deep water have been left out. There will be very tough competition over the best acreage."
Statoil has formed a bidding collaboration with Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Enterprise Oil PLC.