Announcement of APA 2021 sent for public consultation

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has today sent a proposal to announce the licensing round APA 2021 (Award in Pre-defined Areas) for public consultation.

The proposal entails that a further 84 new blocks are included in the APA area. Four are located in the North Sea, 10 in the Norwegian Sea and 70 in the Barents Sea.

— Predictable access to new exploration area is crucial for further development of the petroleum industry. It enables us to maintain activity and value creation on the Norwegian shelf and in the supplier industry. The APA rounds cover most of the open, accessible areas on the continental shelf. They are central to an exploration policy that creates great value for the community. The proposed call for this year's APA round paves the way for new discoveries in the years ahead, says Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru.

The Ministry aims to implement APA 2021 in line with the usual schedule. That means announcement with an application deadline in the third quarter of 2021 and award in January 2022.

Two licensing rounds

Allocation of exploration area on the Norwegian continental shelf takes place through two equal licensing rounds. The majority of available area is covered by the APA rounds (see figure below). These rounds include area in the best known exploration areas and take place annually. As exploration activity has been going on for decades, most known exploration areas now include most of the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and a large part of the southern Barents Sea. The other parts of the open accessible exploration area that are not part of APA, can be included in the numbered rounds.

In the consultation round, input is only requested from the consultation bodies if they believe there is new, significant information that is relevant regarding where there may be petroleum activity in the open, accessible areas. This applies from the last time the Parliament dealt with this issue, which was in the summer of 2020.

A mainstay of the government's petroleum policy is the continuation of current practice with regular licensing rounds. The goal is to give the industry access to new exploration areas. All licensing rounds are carried out in areas that are open for petroleum activity and within the area-based framework from the management plans for our sea areas.

Go to the consultation page.


Allocation 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 discovery size is declining. The companies are mainly looking for minor discoveries that do not justify independent development. These discoveries 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, the companies need regular replenishment of new area and predictability about available areas to apply for in the APA process. Upon announcement, an assessment is made of whether the area covered by the scheme (APA area) is to be expanded. Professional assessments decide whether new areas are to be added to the APA area. The area expands as new areas are explored.

The petroleum activities in Norway take place under strict requirements for health, safety and the environment. emphasis is placed on ensuring coexistence with other users of the oceans.