The Norwegian government's Oil and Energy Ministry awarded 11 oil and gas companies rights to explore 15 blocks or partial blocks in the North Sea Awards 2000 Round. The government offered Statoil, Conoco, Enterprise Oil, Phillips and RWE-DEA operatorships in new areas. Partners in the blocks were offered to Chevron, Enterprise Oil, Norsk Hydro, RWE-DEA, Agip, Aker Maritime, Esso Mobil and Fortum. In addition, the state's direct financial interest has a 30 percent share in a license. The ministry said the awards were important for the long-term resource management on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Carrying out this round is expected to contribute to increased exploration activity and may in the longer term lead to new field developments.