* 24 licenses awarded to 29 companies
* Statoil, Shell, Conoco, Total, ENI among winners
* 36 oil firms had applied, 86 blocks were on offer
OSLO, June 12 Norway awarded 24 oil and gas
exploration licences on Wednesday, focusing on the Arctic
Barents Sea, in an effort to prolong oil output after more than
a decade of decline.
Statoil, ConocoPhillips, Shell,
Total, ENI and nine other firms received the
right to operate licences, while a total of 29 firms won stakes
The Nordic nation, which lifted its undiscovered resource
estimate to 18.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) earlier
this year, is seeing a decline in its current oil output and is
looking northwards to rejuvenate it.
Interest in the Nordic country's Arctic offshore rose after
Statoil discovered the Johan Castberg field in the Barents Sea
two years ago. Until then, close to 100 exploration wells had
been drilled over three decades, with the vast majority coming
Major firms that applied for licences but did not get any,
include BG, Denmark's DONG and Dana Petroleum. Lukoil
and Rosneft both received stakes in
licences, becoming the first Russian companies to hold stakes in
Norway offered 86 blocks, or partial blocks, in the round,
of which a record 72 were in the Barents Sea and 14 in the
Statoil and ENI both won three operatorships, while others
got one or two. Statoil also received stakes in seven licences.
Austrian firm OMV won stakes in six licences,
including two operatorships.
"Interest has been great and firms submitted great
applications, confirming that the Norwegian Continental Shelf is
a very interesting petroleum province," oil minister Ola Borten
Moe said in a statement.
Norway has some of the highest taxes in the world for its
oil sector, but the regulatory regime favours exploration.
Unlike many major producers, it does not sell licences but
awards them to the best applicants and refunds 78 percent of
It also allows firms to write off much of their development
costs and recoups tax money once fields go into production.