Norwegian licensing round concentrates on mature areas

Friday is the deadline for oil companies to bid on 68 blocks offered in Norway's next offshore licensing round. Officials at the Ministry of Petroleum will evaluate the applications and are expected to announce the award of licenses in March or April.

By the OGJ Online Staff

LONDON, Dec. 7 --Friday is the deadline for bidding on 68 blocks offered in Norway's next offshore licensing round.

Officials at the Ministry of Petroleum will evaluate the applications and are expected to announce the award of licenses in March or April.

The country's biggest oil company, Statoil ASA, applied for several blocks in partnership with Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Enterprise Oil PLC (OGJ Online, Dec. 6, 2001). Several other companies submitted joint applications, particularly for blocks near their existing joint operations.

Norway is using the 17th licensing round to allocate licenses in areas near existing infrastructure: no blocks in "virgin areas" are on offer. The Norwegian government describes the round as one of consolidation, designed to maximize production from existing mature and declining areas.

The new oil minister, Einar Steensnaes, will not participate in the licensing round process. He is involved in Norway's annual budget discussions and is completing Norway's agreement to cut exports by up to 200,000 b/d in support of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' efforts to support world oil prices.

Norway is seeking clarification from OPEC's Vienna secretariat on some minor issues. The oil minister said a decision will be announced by Christmas.

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