By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, June 6 -- Eleven oil and gas companies have received offers to participate in new production licenses on the Norwegian Continental Shelf following Norway's 17th NCS licensing round, the country's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy reported late last month. The energy firms will be offered participation in a total of 18 blocks or parts of blocks, the ministry said.
"The 17th licensing round signifies a new focus on the Norwegian Sea," said Einar Steensnæs, minister of petroleum and energy. "Several of the blocks are in deepwater areas with substantial technological challenges. However, these blocks also represent considerable possibilities for making new, large discoveries, Steensnæs said.
A total of 32 blocks were offered in this licensing round. The deadline for submissions was March 2002. Norway's Norsk Hydro was offered operatorship of two blocks, while Agip SPA, Phillips Petroleum Co., Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Statoil ASA were offered one operatorship each. Among the other firms participating were BP PLC, Gaz de France, ChevronTexaco Corp., Conoco Inc., Danish state firm DONG, and RWE-DEA AG.
Hydro, Statoil response
Norsk Hydro said that the latest licensing round enhances its position in what it considers an "important" exploration area. "Hydro's position in the Ormen Lange project, Fles Nord, and the company's remaining exploration possibilities in the Norwegian Sea, including the Solsikke prospect to be drilled later this year, gives the company a unique position for further development of proven and potential resources. . .," said Torstein Dale Sjotveit, Norsk Hydro president, exploration and development, Norway.
"Fles Nord has potentially large gas resources and is therefore of particular interest for the company," Sjotveit said. The Fles Nord blocks are in 900 m of water in the center of the Voring basin about 150 km northwest of Åsgard field.
Meanwhile, Statoil was offered operatorship and a 30% stake in Production License 281, which covers deepwater Blocks 6405/4, 6405/7, and 6405/10 on the Grip Ridge north of the Ormen Lange discovery, the company said. These blocks lie in 700-900 m of water.
In addition, Statoil stands to receive a 20% interest in PL 282, a "seismic option" with Shell as operator of the license. This lease covers deepwater Blocks 6504/6, 6505/1, 6505/2, 6505/4, and 6505/5, Statoil said. PL 282—which does not involve any drilling commitment—is in 1,000 m of water.
"We've got what we wanted," said Kent Høgseth, Statoil's project manager for the 17th round. "Good teamwork has paid off with the most attractive acreage. A deepwater operatorship is very important for us in this round, because it could provide valuable experience with such developments—providing we find anything."
Høgseth characterized PL 281 as "promising," adding that his company expects to spud its first well there sometime in 2003.