An important announcement was made by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy the 16th January which appears to have been somewhat overshadowed by other news including the announcement of the new Norwegian Government.
In the Award in Pre-Defined Areas 2017 (APA 2017), a record number of production licenses were awarded for exploration and further development of the Norwegian continental shelf ("NCS"). The yearly APA licensing rounds cover the most explored areas on the NCS. As many as 75 new licenses were awarded, the highest number ever awarded in one licensing round in Norway. The 75 licenses were located in the North Sea (45), the Norwegian Sea (22), and the Barents Sea (8) respectively. 34 different oil companies were awarded ownership interests, of which 19 companies were awarded (one or more) operatorships. All the new licenses were awarded with work-programme obligations which help to ensure continued activity on the NCS.
The companies awarded licenses ranged from international majors, private equity owned players to small domestic exploration companies, which underscore that the NCS is still one of the most attractive oil and gas provinces in the world.