“To exploit the potential on the Norwegian shelf, it is essential that the oil companies are allowed to explore in new areas. In this sense, the proposed blocks for the 22nd round are disappointing,” says licensing policy manager Erling Kvadsheim in the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF).
On Friday, 30 March, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE) submitted a proposed list of blocks for announcement in the 22nd licensing round to a public consultation process. The proposed list includes a total of 86 blocks, 72 in the Barents Sea and 14 in the Norwegian Sea.
“Considering the fact that the oil companies nominated 228 blocks, this is meager. The ordinary licensing rounds are supposed to contribute to the exploration of new areas,” says Kvadsheim.
Simultaneously with the consultation for the 22nd round, the MPE implemented an expansion of APA 2012 by a total of 48 blocks or parts of blocks, compared with APA 2011. The APA, awards in predefined areas, is a special scheme for mature and familiar areas on the Norwegian shelf.
Kvadsheim believes that the expansion of the APA area off the coast of Finnmark county is a natural follow-up after this area was opened in connection with the management plan for the Barents Sea and Lofoten.
“The area is geologically interesting, and is situated close to existing discoveries and fields. The Goliat field has already proven that this is an area where oil can be discovered,” says Kvadsheim.
The geological interest in and understanding of the play models in the blocks now being included in the Norwegian Sea are growing, and it is natural to include these blocks in the APA scheme. This is an area of the shelf where significant infrastructure investments are being planned in the form of gas pipelines from the Aasta Hansteen area to Åsgard Transport.
“That is why it is important that the blocks are subject to the predictability, and thus secure long-term planning, that accompanies the APA scheme,” says Kvadsheim.
The new blocks in the North Sea are located in an area that has been the object of renewed interest in recent years. The play models have been known for a number of years, but advances have been made in the understanding of the geology here that mean that these blocks naturally belong in the APA scheme.
“Both of the new blocks have previously been licensed for a lengthy period of time, and a total of three wells have been drilled here. There are several producing fields nearby, which also makes in natural to include these blocks in the scheme from a resource exploitation perspective. There are also a number of other areas on the shelf that can be characterized as mature, and a further expansion of the APA area in the future is natural,” says Kvadsheim.
Erling Kvadsheim, licensing policy manager in OLF, mobile +47 900 76 413
Tom Gederø, information manager in OLF, mobile +47 922 47 082