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    Norway Dishes out 61 APA Licences


A diverse mix of 30 companies have secured permits mostly in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea, the NPD said.

by: Joe Murphy

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Norway Dishes out 61 APA Licences

Norway has awarded 61 production licences to 30 companies in its latest Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) licensing round, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) reported on January 19.

The awards comprise 34 in the North Sea, 24 in the Norwegian Sea and three in the Barents Sea. 12 of the permits provide extra acreage to existing licences.

"This year’s award of 61 new production licences to as many as 30 companies shows that the petroleum industry still has significant expectations of making profitable discoveries on the Norwegian Shelf,” the NPD said. "It’s positive that the companies are showing significant interest in exploring in areas with known geology, and close to existing infrastructure."

The NPD said the round had attracted a diverse mix of players, ranging from junior explorers to major international operators. Some 33 companies applied in the contest, launched in June last year. The annual APA rounds offer acreage in well-developed areas, in the hope that companies find resources that can be tied to existing infrastructure at a low cost.

Norwegian oil giant Equinor reported winning 10 operated and seven non-operated licences, helping to supplement its exploration portfolio. Var Energi, owned by Italy's Eni and Norwegian private equity firm HitecVision, secured a further five operated and five non-operated permits. Five of the acquired licences are in the Norwegian Sea.

"The new exploration licences continue to strengthen Var Energi's position both around key hubs and in other attractive areas, confirming our strategy and commitment to the exploration of the NCS," Var Energi CEO Kristin Kragseth said. 

Norway's DNO secured four operated and six non-operated licences in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea, while Neptune Energy won six licences. Germany's Wintershall Dea also obtained 16 licences, including four operated ones. Swedish Lundin won 19, seven of which it will operate, and said they were a combination of "high value, near field opportunities and high potential, frontier exploration." 

Polish state PGNiG won four, two (PL 1123 and PL 1124) near the Skarv field in the Norwegian Sea and two (PL 1088 and PL 146B) are near the King Lear field in the North Sea. In each case it is the junior partner.

Norway also holds frontier rounds on a less regular basis that offer blocks in less explored areas where investment is naturally riskier but which may yield greater discoveries. It launched its 25th frontier contest in November, inviting bids for 136 blocks in nine frontier zones, eight of which are in the Barents Sea.