The Norwegian government was “pleased” and Norwegian oil company Statoil jubilant after the state oil and energy ministry offered stakes in 65 new production licenses to 48 oil companies on Tuesday. Oil Minister Tord Lien said the interest in offshore oil and gas fields off Norway set a new record.
“I am very pleased to send out offers today to 48 companies for participation … on the Norwegian shelf,” Lien stated. “This is a new record, both in the number of production licenses and the number of companies.”
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that Statoil secured stakes in 10 licenses and will act as operator on seven of them. Another 28 companies were also offered positions as operators.
Of the 65 licenses, 38 of them are for exploration and production in the North Sea, 19 in the Norwegian Sea and eight in the Barents Sea.
A total of 50 companies applied for production licenses, with 48 offered shares in one or more of them. Environmentally oriented politicians like Heiki Holmås of the Socialist Left (SV) were less than pleased with the awards, contending that they increase Norway’s dependence on oil, “when consideration for the climate and Norway’s economy mean we should go the opposite way.”
‘Predictable and high pace’ of activity
Lien claimed Norway’s new conservative government “will maintain a predictable and high pace in awarding new areas for petroleum activity.” The new licenses, though, mostly encompass what Lien called “the most explored areas on the Norwegian shelf.”
Large new discoveries of oil and gas have been made in such mature areas, which often allows oil companies to use existing infrastructure and can thus present lower field development costs, risks and challenges. The size of more discoveries is expected to be lower, but they can still be profitable, Lien noted.
Other companies offered relatively large numbers of license stakes included Centrica Resources and Faroe Petroleum, both with 10, plus Bayerngas and Lundin with nine and Wintershall and Tullow Oil with eight each. Companies snaring the most operatorships included, after Statoil’s seven, Wintershall with five and Lundin and Tullow with four each. Other significant players included Norske Shell, Edison International and VNG.