Norway offers 34 licenses on mature shelf

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, Dec.19 -- Norway has offered 34 production licenses to oil companies on the mature part of the Norwegian continental shelf under its Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) program for 2008.

The energy ministry has extended offers to 40 companies, which are to respond by Jan. 9.

Five of the companies would be new to the region. Nineteen companies will receive offers of operatorships. One of them, Lotos, has not previously been an operator on the Norwegian shelf.

Potential operators besides Lotos include BG Norse; Centrica Resources; ConocoPhillips; Dana Petroleum PLC; Det Norske Oljeselskap; Dong; Eni SPA; Lundin AS, Maersk Oil; Marathon Oil Corp., and Wintershall.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said 21 of the 34 production licenses are in the North Sea, 11 are in the Norwegian Sea, and 2 are in the Barents Sea.

"Eight of the production licenses are additional acreage in existing production licenses. Three of these border on discoveries/fields," it added.

The ministry expects nine firm wells to be drilled on the acreage with six in the North Sea (three by DNO AS and one each by StatoilHydro Marathon, and Lundin). One well will be drilled in the Norwegian Sea (Wintershall), and two will be drilled in the Barents Sea (DONG).

Companies that have 21 of the production licenses with "drill or drop" clauses have 1-3 years to decide whether to drill a well. If they decline, the production license will lapse.

DNO has been offered operatorship of production license 500, which covers parts of Block 16/1 in the North Sea. If it accepts the offer it will have a 35% stake and work with Skeie Energy AS, 35%, and Spring Energy Norway AS, 30%.

The ministry received applications from 47 companies for 215 blocks or parts of blocks spanning 48,057 sq km in this round.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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