APA 2023

Applicant for production licenses on the Norwegian Continental Shelf

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has received applications from 25 companies in connection with the announcement of APA 2023.

’We have received a large number of applications from the active companies on the Norwegian continental shelf to search for new petroleum resources in the announced areas. Without exploration and new discoveries, we will neither be able to maintain the production of oil and gas over time or further develop the petroleum sector and all the jobs in the industry. That the oil companies are showing such great interest in the awarding of new production licences and exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf is therefore very good’, said Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Mr. Terje Aasland.

Awards in predefined areas (APA) is the annual licensing round for the best-known exploration areas on the Norwegian shelf. It comprises the majority of the available exploration areas.

By the application deadline of 23rd August, the Ministry had received applications from a total of 25 companies. The Ministry does not publish the total number of applications because of competitive considerations.

The APA area is being expanded as geological knowledge in areas on the Norwegian shelf increases. In this year's licensing round, the predefined area was expanded in the North Sea and the Barents Sea.

APA 2023 was announced 10th May 2023. The aim is to award new production licenses in the announced areas at the beginning of 2024.

Full announcement text, updated map of announced blocks, HSE, environmental and fisheries conditions and further information is available on the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's website.

List of companies that have applied:

A/S Norske Shell


Concedo AS

ConocoPhillips Skandinavia AS

DNO Norge AS

Equinor Energy AS

Harbour Energy Norge AS

INPEX Idemitsu Norge AS


Lime Petroleum AS

Longboat JAPEX Norge AS

M Vest Energy AS

Neptune Energy Norge AS


OMV (Norge) AS

Pandion Energy AS

Petrolia NOCO AS

PGNiG Upstream Norway AS

Repsol Norge AS

Source Energy AS

Sval Energi AS

TotalEnergies EP Norge AS

Vår Energi ASA

Wellesley Petroleum AS

Wintershall Dea Norge AS


Before licenses can be granted for petroleum activity in an area on the Norwegian continental shelf, the area must be open for petroleum activities. Production licenses can only be granted in areas that are open and accessible for petroleum activities.

A production license gives the exclusive right to explore, drill and extract petroleum within the license's geographical area. Production licenses are normally awarded through licensing rounds. In a licensing round, the ministry announces certain geographical areas where companies can apply for production licenses. On the basis of the applications received, a production license is granted to a group of companies on the basis of objective, non-discriminatory and pre-announced criteria. The Ministry designates one operator for each production license.

The annual licensing rounds APA (Awards in predefined areas) were introduced in 2003. The aim was to best facilitate the identification and extraction of profitable resources in mature areas before existing infrastructure shuts down. The APA licensing rounds take place annually and within a predefined area. This gives the companies predictability about the available areas to apply for in the APA. This facilitates regular replenishment of new exploration area for the companies, which is important for achieving effective exploration. Over time, the APA area is expanded based on petroleum professional assessments of the areas' maturity, and in particular the need for step-by-step exploration and utilization of time-critical resources. Today, the APA area comprises the majority of open, accessible exploration area on the Norwegian continental shelf.