The application deadline for production licences in the 23 licensing round expired on 2 December, and 26 companies had applied for exploration acreage by the end of the deadline.
This licensing round comprises 57 announced blocks or parts of blocks, 3 of which are in the Norwegian Sea and 54 in the Barents Sea. 34 of the announced blocks are situated in the newly opened area in the south-eastern Barents Sea, and many of the applications target this acreage in particular.
'It is good to see that so many competent companies want to explore in new acreage during a time when we are experiencing low oil prices and substantial cost cuts. This shows that the companies recognise opportunities and the potential of finding oil and gas in these new areas,' comments Sissel Eriksen, exploration director in the NPD.
She notes that the announced blocks are located in frontier areas, and that more exploration is needed in order to clarify the resource potential.
A total of 36 companies applied for production licences in the 22nd licensing round. APA 2015 garnered a great deal of interest, with as many as 44 companies submitting applications. This can indicate that the smaller players have prioritised APA ahead of the 23rd licensing round this year.