Norway has awarded 83 new production licenses under the 2018 Norwegian APA round which covers the most explored areas of the Norwegian shelf. This is the largest number ever awarded in a single APA round. The licences were mainly distributed across the North Sea with 37 awards, and the Norwegian Sea with 32 awards. The award of 14 licences in the Barents Sea reflects the frontier nature of the region, however this figure continues to grow, with only three licences awarded here in APA 2016 and eight awarded in 2017.(Link to awards maps)
33 different companies picked up licences, 21 as operators, and ranging from large international companies to small exploration companies. The awards continue to be dominated to by Equinor, AkerBP and Lundin Petroleum. Equinor and AkerBP were awarded 29 and 21 licences respectively, however the next largest award went to DNO with 18 licences including five as operator. DNO’s position will increase further to 26 licences and 14 operatorships once its takeover of Faroe Petroleum is finalised and Faroe’s award of eight new licences is incorporated.
Number of awards
Number of operatorships
Also notable is the increasing presence of privately backed companies, which picked up interests in 40 licences. This included awards to entities that did not exist in their current form prior to 2018. Var Energy, created in 2018 with the merger of Point Resources backed by HiTecVision(30.4%), into Eni (69.6%) , headed this list and was awarded 13 licences, four as operator. Neptune Energy also picked up nine licences, four as operator. The company, founded by Sam Laidlaw, completed its integration with the former VNG Norge business in December 2018. Other private companies to pick up awards include Wellesley Petroleum and INEOS with six awards each, Okea with four (three as operator) and Chrysaor with two.
As companies start to provide details of these awards, underlying trends in the location of the licences may become clearer, though it is too early to comment at this stage. All the licences require initial work programmes of G & G studies or 3D seismic acquisition or reprocessing with exploration drilling in some cases within two years.