• Natural Gas News

    Norwegian Frontier Round Attracts Seven Bidders


There are fewer participants than in previous numbered rounds, following a year of exploration disappointments in the Arctic Barents Sea.

by: Joe Murphy

Posted in:

Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Premium, Corporate, Exploration & Production, Political, Licensing rounds, News By Country, Norway

Norwegian Frontier Round Attracts Seven Bidders

Seven companies have filed bids in Norway's latest frontier licensing round, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) reported on February 25.

Shell, Equinor, Idemitsu Petroleum, Ineos, Lundin Energy, OMV and Var Energi have taken part in Norway's 25th round. In contrast to the country's awards in predefined areas (APA) contests, the numbered rounds offer companies rights to less explored areas where infrastructure is scarce.

There are fewer participants in the 25th round than in previous numbered contests. The 23rd round in 2013 attracted bids from 26 companies, while the 24th in 2016 secured offers from 11. The weaker result comes after a year of disappointing drilling results in the Barents Sea, where 125 of the 136 blocks on offer in the latest contest are situated.

Lundin Energy in late January became the latest operator to drill a dry hole in the Barents Sea. Equinor came up dry at the Spissa prospect in the Barents Sea in December last year. A month earlier Lundin completed a dry well east of the Johan Castberg field. Equinor and the UK's Spirit Energy also drilled dusters in the region last summer.

"We see that large and medium-sized companies with good technical and financial capacity to conduct exploration in such areas have applied," the NPD said of the latest bids.

Norwegian authorities also launched a consultation on February 25 on the 2021 APA licensing round, proposing that 84 new blocks should be offered for exploration. The bulk – some 70 blocks - are located in the Barents Sea. The previous APA contest led to the award of 61 production licences to 30 companies in January.