Norway’s petroleum and energy ministry has announced that the country, which is Western Europe’s biggest oil and gas producer, is offering up to 92 new blocks for hydrocarbon exploration in the new round of licensing in mature areas.

The proposal, made public yesterday [Tuesday], adds 92 new oil and gas exploration blocks in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea to the best-known areas for exploration.

Reports said the announcement for the licensing round will take place in the third quarter of this year, with the award of blocks expected to be announced in January 2024. 

“We constantly need new discoveries to further develop the Norwegian continental shelf,” petroleum and energy minister, Terje Aasland said in a statement.

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The so-called Allocation in predefined areas (APA) round was introduced in 2003 to facilitate timely exploration of the most geologically known parts of the shelf.

In the most recent licensing round, APA 2022, the ministry awarded earlier this month 47 new production licenses in the predefined areas to a wide variety of companies.

“Further exploration activity and new discoveries are important to maintain the production of oil and gas over time, both for Norway and Europe,” Aasland said.

Norway will continue to pump the current high volumes of natural gas for at least another five years as operators have pledged $30.3 billion (300 billion Norwegian crowns) to develop new fields and extend the lifetimes of producing fields, the Norwegian petroleum directorate said earlier this month.

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“Only rarely have we seen so much oil and gas produced on the Norwegian shelf as was the case last year – and only rarely have we seen such significant investment decisions,” the NPD said in its yearly overview of the production and investment activity on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

“These are remarkable investments for the future. This will help ensure that Norway can continue to be a reliable supplier of energy to Europe”, said NPD director general, Torgeir Stordal

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