Norway kicks off APA 2020

Source: press release, 19 June 2020

Awards in Predefined Areas 2020
Awards in Predefined Areas 2020 (illustration: NPD)

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has announced this year’s licensing round in mature areas on the Norwegian continental shelf – Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) 2020.

After more than 50 years of exploration, the APA area constitutes most of the open, accessible area on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

“The Norwegian Government pursues a long-term, predictable petroleum policy. New discoveries are a prerequisite for long-term employment, value creation and government revenues. Regular licensing rounds on the Norwegian Continental Shelf are therefore a key element in our policy, says Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy,” Tina Bru.

The Norwegian oil and gas industry is the country’s largest and most important industry for value creation, government revenues, exports and investments. In order to maintain the activity in the long term, we depend on continuity in the exploration activity. Continued exploration provides opportunities for new discoveries that can be developed and help maintain activity and production. In mature areas, new discoveries are important for achieving good capacity utilisation in production and transport facilities and for good management of time-critical resources.

“The APA rounds include large parts of the open, accessible part of the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Even after decades of activity, there are still opportunities in these areas. Due to new technology and a multitude of new players, I believe we will see new discoveries in the areas available in this year’s APA round,” Minister Tina Bru continues.

Awards in Predefined Areas is one of two equal licensing rounds on the Norwegian Continental Shelf and takes place annually. In APA 2020, according to established practice, an extension of the predefined area by 36 blocks west of the Norwegian Sea has been extended. The proposal for the announcement has been subject to public consultation.

The companies’ deadline for applications in this licensing round is set for Tuesday, 22 September 2020 at 12:00. Following the completion of the application process, the aim is to grant new production licenses in the announced areas in early 2021.

Full announcement text, updated map of announced blocks, HSE, environmental and fishing conditions and further information are available on the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s (NPD) website.

Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) was introduced in 2003 to facilitate exploration in geologically best known parts of the Shelf. The expected size of discoveries in mature areas is smaller. Exploration mainly focuses on smaller discoveries that would not justify an independent development but may be profitable if developed in conjunction with other discoveries and/or utilising existing or planned infrastructure.

In these areas, it is important with time critical exploration. Effective exploration requires predictability regarding which areas the companies can apply for in the APA-rounds, and requires a steady increase in the number of blocks included in the APA-area. Thus, the APA rounds are organised annually.

An evaluation is undertaken every year as to whether the APA area should be expanded. There are petroleum-related assessments that decide whether new areas should be added to the APA area. The area expands as new areas are explored.

Petroleum activities in Norway are subject to stringent health, safety and environment requirements, as well as requirements to safeguard the external environment. Significant emphasis is placed on ensuring sound co-existence with other industries.