The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy launched the APA (Awards in Predefined Areas) 2016 licensing round Thursday, comprising predefined areas with blocks in the North, Norwegian and Barents Seas.
Norway’s latest licensing round has been extended by 24 blocks in the Norwegian Sea and 32 blocks in the Barents Sea since APA 2015. The application deadline for APA 2016 is Sept. 6, and acreage awards are expected to be announced during the first quarter of 2017, according to a Norwegian Petroleum Directorate statement.
APA 2015 was announced by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy April 21, 2015. Compared to APA 2014, the 2015 licensing round included an expansion of the predefined area by 35 blocks in the Norwegian Sea – including blocks close to the Aasta Hansteen field and the Pil and Bue discoveries at Haltenbanken – and 11 blocks in the Barents Sea, near the Alta and Gotha discoveries. A total of 44 companies submitted applications for APA 2015, which was just three less than the 47 firms that registered applications for APA 2014.
In January of this year, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced that 56 exploration licenses had been awarded as part of the APA 2015 round. Statoil ASA received the most acreage with 24 licenses, including 13 operatorships, with Det norske oljeselskap ASA and Tullow Oil plc securing 10 and eight licenses, respectively.
Investments in Norway’s oil and gas sector are predicted to drop by almost 40 percent from 2014 to 2017, according to the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, with Statistics Norway anticipating the number of active rigs on the Norwegian Shelf to decrease this year. Due to the effects of the lower oil price environment, a number of Norwegian energy firms, including Statoil ASA and Aker Solutions ASA, are also laying off thousands of staff.