After Recent Big Discoveries, Norway Looks to Award Offshore Exploration Licenses in Arctic Oil Patch

Polar Pioneer barents sea statoil
Polar Pioneer drilling on the Skrugard Prospect in the Barents Sea, Photo: Harald Pettersen, Statoil

TRONDHEIM, Norway–Norway Tuesday pushed ahead with plans to award oil and gas drilling licenses mainly in the vital Arctic area, in a bid to open up new sea acreage for exploration as early as 2013.

Norway, the world’s seventh biggest oil exporter in 2010, plans to award licenses for 86 blocks or partial blocks, of which 72 are in the Barents Sea and 14 in the Norwegian Sea, the Oil Ministry said.

The cold, remote Arctic region has become increasingly popular for oil and gas exploration following several recent big finds in the area.

“We are now experiencing record levels of interest in the Barents Sea,” Oil Minister Ola Borten Moe said at an energy conference in Trondheim.

The government has set the application deadline for Dec. 4, in hopes of completing the licensing round by summer 2013.

– By Anna Molin and Kjetil Malkenes Hovland, Dow Jones Newswires