The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has announced this year’s licensing round for the geologically best-known parts of the Norwegian continental shelf – APA 2021.
Through the annual licensing round, the oil companies are given the opportunity to gain access to attractive exploration area on the Norwegian shelf. After more than 50 years of exploration activities, the APA scheme covers the majority of opened, accessible area on the Norwegian shelf.
In APA 2021, in accordance with established practice, the predefined area has been expanded by 84 blocks. Four of them are in the North Sea, 10 in the Norwegian Sea and 70 in the Barents Sea. The proposed call has been subject to public consultation.
The companies’ application deadline in this licensing round is noon, September 8. After the application process has been completed, the aim is to grant new production licenses in the announced areas at the beginning of 2022.
“Announcement and allocation of exploration area is important to maintain the level of activity on the Norwegian shelf. It contributes to good resource management, creates great value for the community and secures jobs across the country. The announcement of this APA round is in line with the government’s long-term policy for the petroleum industry. It is also within the framework for the industry, which is agreed upon by a broad majority in the Parliament,” says 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 revenue, exports and investments. In order to maintain activity in the long term, continuity in exploration activity is important. Exploration provides opportunities for new discoveries that can be expanded and help maintain activity and production.
In mature areas, new discoveries are important for achieving good capacity utilisation in production and transport facilities. It is also important for good management of time-critical resources.
Text of the full announcement, an updated map of announced blocks, environmental and fisheries conditions, EHS and further information are all available on the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s website.
Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) was introduced in 2003 to facilitate exploration in the geologically best-known parts of the NCS. The expected size of discoveries in the mature areas is smaller. Exploration often 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, time critical exploration is important. Effective exploration requires predictability regarding which areas the companies can apply for in the APA-rounds. A steady increase in the number of blocks included in the APA-area is important. The APA rounds are therefore 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.