“The Storting has opened the Barents Sea southeast for petroleum activities. New acreage is important for long-term positive development of the petroleum activities and value creation in Norway. New acreage has not been opened on the Norwegian shelf since 1994. The Barents Sea southeast will open up very significant opportunities for Northern Norway and Finnmark County. I’m following up the opening by including these areas in the 23rd licencing round. Wednesday’s invitation to nominate is the start of this licensing round,” says Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe (Centre Party).
The primary focus area for the 23rd licencing round will be the newly opened area in the southeastern part of the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea. There will be extensive exploration activity over the next few years in licenses already awarded in other parts of the Barents Sea. For reasons relating to resource management, including the interest of facilitating stepwise, efficient exploration, the number of blocks announced in the Barents Sea outside the southeastern area will most likely be limited. However, it will also be possible to nominate blocks in other parts of the Barents Sea.
The Ministry is also accepting nominations in the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea. As regards the Norwegian Sea, it is important for future exploration activities to lay the foundation for efficient utilisation of the existing transport system, in which there will be considerable spare capacity after 2020. The same principle of stepwise exploration will also apply to these sea areas.
“Stepwise exploration is a fundamental principle for the numbered licensing rounds. This approach has contributed to an efficient and profitable exploration of the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The large areas awarded in the most recent rounds, particularly in the Barents Sea, will give us more information about the geology in these areas in the time to come. Potential new licences in such areas must be viewed in this context,” says Minister of Petroleum and Energy Ola Borten Moe.
The companies’ nominations will be an important part of the Ministry’s decision basis as regards announcing acreage in the 23rd licencing round. Nominations in the Barents Sea southeast will take place on the basis of the seismic data acquired by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate as part of the opening process. The Ministry wants further data acquisition in the area to take place in an efficient and rational manner, and expects the oil companies to contribute to this effect.
The need for thorough, efficient data acquisition in this area means that the further schedule for the 23rd licencing round may be somewhat delayed, compared with an ordinary two-year schedule.
The Ministry’s proposed announced acreage will be subject to public consultation.
All areas that have been opened for petroleum activities can be nominated in the 23rd licencing round, with the following exceptions:
- Areas covered by licences
- Areas included in the APA area (Awards in Predefined Areas)
- Areas for which relevant activity restrictions have been established through the various integrated management plans for the sea areas
The invitations have been distributed to all licensees on the shelf and pre-qualified companies.
Nominations must be received by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy by 14 January 2014 at 12.00 hours. A copy of the nomination must also be submitted to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.