Many interested in exploring in mature areas

A preliminary count reveals that 41 companies have applied for acreage in the 2010 Awards in Predefined Areas (APA 2010) in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.

This result shows that interest remains high in awards in predefined areas in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea, even though much of this area has been previously awarded and explored. About 30% more applications have been received in APA 2010 compared with last year.

“Mature areas on the Norwegian shelf are interesting, particularly for the smaller oil companies,” says Sissel Eriksen, the NPD’s director responsible for exploration.

“Proximity to existing facilities allows faster and more profitable development of small discoveries compared with developments in less mature areas of the shelf. The high price of oil in recent years is also a major contributing factor to the high level of exploration activity.

Most of the companies that applied in APA 2009 have also submitted applications this year.

At the application deadline on 15 September, companies could apply for a total of 81,500 km2, distributed among 302 blocks. This is a substantial increase compared with APA 2009. This is because the predefined area in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea was expanded by more than 22,600 km2 in a total of 63 blocks or parts of blocks, compared with the area in APA 2009.

In addition, significant acreage was relinquished within the APA area in the last year, and this was included in the area the companies could apply for.

In APA 2009, the authorities received applications from 44 companies for an area totalling 55,319 km2. Of this, 8,256 km2 was awarded in early 2010.

The APA scheme contributes to better and faster exploration of mature areas on the Norwegian shelf. Several new players with new ideas and new exploration targets have yielded a number of new discoveries in mature areas of the Norwegian shelf. The scheme also ensures that the industry has regular access to prospective acreage, and that acreage is relinquished faster and made available for new players.

The awards will take place in late 2010/early 2011.

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