Broad application for new exploration areas

October 2, 2003, 10:00 CEST

Hydro submitted on Wednesday an application to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy for eight new exploration licences on the Norwegian continental shelf. Five of these are linked to operatorship.

This was not a usual North Sea round. For the first time, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy will award licences in predetermined areas (TFO2003).

Hydro submitted a broad application for eight areas on the Norwegian continental shelf. For five of these Hydro has applied for operatorship.

“Increasing exploration activities and utilizing existing infrastructure will be a key challenge in the future. Our broad application shows that Hydro wishes to be an active player in meeting this challenge,” says Lars Christian Alsvik, who is head of Exploration and Development Norway (E&DN).

He underlines that changes to the frame conditions are essential if small and marginal fields are to be developed.

“The Norwegian authorities are giving increasingly positive signals indicating that they wish to stimulate activity on the Norwegian continental shelf, and perhaps particularly in mature areas. The whole petroleum industry has also pointed out the need for changes, and we hope that the authorities will adjust the frame conditions soon, as is necessary to ensure a good management of these resources and greater creation of value,” says Alsvik.

The invitation to apply for licences included a total of 143 blocks or parts of blocks. The ministry has announced that the exploration areas will be awarded during the course of December.

The licences awarded in predefined areas will follow a fixed pattern, whereby companies may apply for exploration licences from 1 January to 1 October, and these will be awarded before the end of the same year.

“There may be some who are surprised that Hydro is interested in exploration in such a mature area as the North Sea. We believe that there are still significant undiscovered oil and gas deposits in these mature areas. We see though that these are small and will be more demanding in terms of expertise and effort than the developments we have been used to,” says Alsvik.