Twenty-six companies applied for acreage.
For the first time since 1994, the ministry has made new exploration acreage available, in this instance in the southeastern Barents Sea which was off-limits until a recent settlement with Russia over the maritime median line.
The licenses carry binding work programs, with a requirement for four exploration wells within three years in three production licenses in the southeastern Barents Sea.
Sissel Eriksen, exploration director of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, said she hoped the first exploration well could be ready to drill by next year.
The ministry also awarded new blocks in the area surrounding the Alta and Wisting oil discoveries, with a view to proving up more resources to strengthen future developments.
Of the companies that have commented on their awards so far, Statoil gained interests in five licenses, one as partner, with five commitment wells. The company expects to drill its first well in 2017.
Statoil’s awards are as follows:
- 30% share and operator for PL859 (blocks 7335/1, 2, 3; 7336/1; 7434/7, 8, 9; 7435/9, 10, 11, 12; and 7436/10)
- 40% share and operator for PL857 (blocks 7132/1, 2, 3, 6; 7133/1, 4; and 7232/10)
- 35% share and operator for PL855 (blocks 7324/5, 6; and 7325/4, 5)
- 40% share and operator for PL854 (blocks 7322/3; 7323/1)
- 20% share for PL858 (blocks 7234/3, 6; 7235/1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Lundin Norway was assigned shares in five licenses, all in the southern Barents Sea, three of which it will operate.
PL609C and PL851 are both on the Loppa High, east and northeast of Lundin’s Alta discovery. The former, immediately east of Alta, was secured as protection acreage in the event that the Alta play fairway proves to extend to the east and northeast.
To the north, PL851 is thought to be prospective on the eastern flank of the Loppa High.
Lundin’s other licenses are in the newly opened southeastern Barents Sea area close to the Russian border and around 150 km (93 mi) from the coast of northern Norway.
PL857 contains a large dome-like structure with various stacked prospects at Jurassic and Triassic levels with potential resources of 1 Bboe. There is a commitment for one exploration well.
To the north, PL859 is around 420 km (261 mi) from the north coast, and contains two dome-like structures, again with stacked prospects at Jurassic and Triassic levels.
Each of these could several Bboe – the license commitment is for two firm exploration wells.
The prospects are drill-ready, Lundin adds, due to the decision by the various licensees to co-fund a 3D seismic survey over the newly licensed area last year.