It didn’t take Norway’s Oil & Energy Minister Tina Bru long to launch the country’s 25th licensing round for more oil exploration and potential production, after Parliament settled on how far north such activity can take place. It remains unclear, however, whether the oil companies will express as much interest as before.
The opening of new oil fields follows political agreement over where Norway’s so-called Arctic “ice edge” lies, and where petroleum activity can take place. Bru is putting nine new areas out to bid, most of them in the Barents Sea where environmentalists firmly oppose oil exploration and production.
Bru insists that exploration and new oil projects are important for future job- and value creation in Norway. The new exploration licenses are due to be handed out next year, but Aker BP is among oil companies uncertain over whether they’ll participate. Poor exploration results and high costs mean that the Barents is no longer an area where Aker BP is committed.