Norway’s state-controlled energy company Equinor has been granted 39 new production licenses by the Ministry of Energy in this year’s licensing round.
The awards include 18 production licenses in the North Sea, 13 in the Norwegian Sea, and 8 in the Barents Sea. Equinor will serve as the operator for 14 of the licenses, and will partner in the remaining 25.
“We are pleased with the award. These licences give Equinor and our partners new opportunities to further develop the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) as an energy province,” says Jez Averty, Equinor’s senior vice president for subsurface, the Norwegian continental shelf. “We are familiar with the geology and confident that we will make new discoveries.”
Norway increased this year’s “Awards in Predefined Areas (APA)” round by 92 blocks in the northwest of the Norwegian Sea and west of the Barents Sea. In total, Norwegian Ministry of Energy offered 62 new production licenses on the Norwegian continental shelf, an increase from 47 last year.
“Last year, I specifically encouraged companies to explore opportunities in the Barents Sea. This year we are offering more than double the number of production licenses in this region compared to last year’s round,” said Energy Minister Terje Aasland. “his shows that several companies have responded positively to the call, and that they are conscious of their social responsibilities. Proving more gas resources is important for profitability, by increasing the export capacity from this region.”
Equinor says that as existing oil and gas fields deplete, new discoveries are required to meet demand making exploration crucial.
“Continued active exploration is necessary in order to reduce the production decline that will occur on the NCS. Phasing in oil and gas from new discoveries will secure long-term activity and contribute to energy security in the European and UK energy transition,” Averty says.
Equinor is the operator of 35 offshore platforms with processing and export infrastructure in Norway that have largely been paid off. The company says infrastructure-led discoveries can be rapidly developed, at low cost, and with low greenhouse gas emissions from production and transportation. Norwegian oil and gas infrastructure is particularly well positioned for oil and gas deliveries in Europe and the UK.
“We are modernising the infrastructure on the NCS with an eye to the energy transition. Based on our plans for electrification and continued cuts in our own greenhouse gas emissions, the production from new discoveries in brownfield areas will not increase our production and transportation emissions. For discoveries that will require new development solutions, we will aim at technological solutions with low emissions. Equinor’s energy transition plan, committed to cutting emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, also includes phasing in production from new discoveries,” says Averty.
“Equinor’s Snøhvit Future and Johan Castberg projects are underdevelopment in the North. We now focus on exploration to uncover the potential for gas in the Barents Sea, working closely with Vår Energi and Aker BP to explore as much as possible with good rig utilisation,” Averty concluded.
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