Reuters Thursday, 18 January 2024
Norway awarded stakes in 62 offshore oil and gas exploration licences to 24 energy companies, including state-controlled Equinor, opens new tab, boosting the amount of acreage offered as the country seeks to pump for decades to come.
The annual award was up from 47 licences a year ago when 25 firms received permits. The increase involved drilling permits in the Arctic Barents Sea and the adjacent Norwegian Sea, the country's energy minister told a conference.
The annual predefined areas (APA) rounds of exploration acreage are central to Norway's strategy of extending its oil and gas production, a policy fiercely opposed by environmentalists, dozens of whom picketed the event.
The licence awards in the Barents Sea, a vast ocean off the northern tip of continental Europe, rose to eight in the new round from just two one year ago, as energy companies expressed more interest in the remote and environmentally harsh region.
"Last year I asked companies to look more closely at Barents Sea opportunities... this award shows that more companies have responded positively and are taking responsibility," Minister of Energy Terje Aasland said.
The awards, based on applications from companies, marked the return of Aker BP, opens new tab to the Barents Sea, which the company had abandoned years ago after spudding a number of dry wells.