APA 2023 submitted for consultation:

A continued responsible and long-term management of the oil and gas resources

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The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has today sent a proposal for the announcement of the APA 2023 licensing round (Awards in Predefined Areas) on public consultation.

– We constantly need new discoveries to further develop the Norwegian continental shelf. Thus, today, I havecommenced the annual licensing round where we offer exploration areas to the oil companies. The proposal for a tender that has been submitted for consultation includes adding 92 blocks to the APA area in the north. Facilitating new discoveries in the north is important both for Europe, for Norway, and for the region, says Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Aasland.

With the proposal, additional areas in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea will be included in the APA area. The ministry will carry out APA 2023 in line with the normal timetable. This means an announcement with an application deadline in the 3rd quarter of 2023 and an award in January 2024.

There has been exploration activity for decades in most of the open, accessible exploration areas on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). The best-known areas on the NCS are covered by the APA rounds. The APA area therefore today includes the majority of the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and a large part of the southern Barents Sea.

– We shall continue the responsible and long-term management of the oil and gas resources. Continuing the annual licensing rounds is a pillar of our petroleum policy, says Aasland.

All licensing rounds on the NCS are carried out in areas that have been opened for petroleum operations and within the framework set by the Norwegian Parliament through the integrated management plans for the marine areas. Hence, in the public consultation, input is only requested on whether new, significant information has come to light that is relevant to the decision on where there may be petroleum activity in open, accessible areas. This applies from the last time the Parliament dealt with this issue, which was in the summer of 2020

Awards in predefined areas (APA) was introduced in 2003 to facilitate timely exploration of the most geologically known parts of the shelf. In these areas, the expected size of discoveries decreases. There is a large search for smaller discoveries that cannot defend an independent development, but which can be profitable when seen in connection with other discoveries and/or can utilize existing or planned infrastructure. Timely exploration of these areas is therefore important.

To achieve effective exploration, it is important to have conditions known in advance about which area it is possible to apply for in APA, and a steady replenishment of new area. That is why the APA rounds are carried out once a year. When the announcement is made, an assessment is made as to whether the area covered by the scheme (APA area) should be expanded. It is petroleum professional assessments that determine whether new areas are to be added to the APA area. The area is being expanded as new areas are explored.

Petroleum operations in Norway are carried out under strict requirements for health, environment, and safety. Great emphasis is placed on ensuring good coexistence with other users of the sea.