Public consultation of the first licensing round for seabed minerals

The Ministry of Energy has presented a proposal for the announcement of the first licensing round for seabed minerals on the Norwegian continental shelf for public consultation. The proposal sets out the areas where the companies will be able to apply for exploitation licenses, so that exploration and gathering knowledge about whether there is a basis for sustainable mineral exploitation on the Norwegian shelf can begin.

‘The world needs minerals for the green transition, and the government wants to explore if it is possible to extract seabed minerals in a sustainable manner from the Norwegian continental shelf. A large majority of the Norwegian Parliament supports the government’s step-by-step approach to the management of seabed minerals. This announcement is an important next step in the management of our seabed mineral resources. Environmental considerations are taken into account in all stages of the activities. Today, we are presenting our proposal for areas to be announced in the first licensing round for seabed minerals for public consultation. We plan to award licenses in the first half of 2025’, said Minister of Energy Terje Aasland.

The government presented a proposal for opening an area and a management strategy for seabed mineral activities for the Norwegian Parliament in June 2023 (Report to the Storting (White Paper) no. 25 (2022-2023). A large majority in the Norwegian Parliament endorsed the government’s proposal to open an area on the Norwegian continental shelf for seabed mineral activities and the main lines of the management strategy. On the basis of this, the King in Council decided to formally open an area in the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea for mineral activities on 12th of April this year.

‘Access to minerals is crucial to ensure that the world succeeds with the transition to a low-emission society.  Minerals from the Norwegian seabed can become a source to meet parts of this demand. Norway’s long experience with responsible and sustainable management of ocean-based resources, makes us well positioned to take the lead and manage these resources in a responsible and sustainable manner’, said Aasland.

The Norwegian Offshore Directorate was given the task of preparing a proposal for which parts of the opened area should be made available for applications in the first licensing round. During this process, the Directorate has received input from the industry to clarify which areas are more interesting to explore. The proposal which is now presented for public consultation is based on the proposal from the Norwegian Offshore Directorate. The area in the proposal constitutes 386 blocks and approximately 38 percent of the area which was opened in April.

The deadline of the public consultation is 26th of September 2024.

Kart over utlysningsareal på norsk kontinentalsokkel
Credit: Sokkeldirektoratet.


The public consultation is a part of the first licensing round for mineral activity on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Following the consultation, the Ministry will go through the consultation responses. After this, the first licensing round will be announced. The announcement will, among other things, include a deadline for the companies, and information about requirements and conditions that will be put on applicants related to, among other things, the environment.  As part of their application, the companies will be requested to include a proposal for a work program for the area to which they are applying.

Received applications will be processed in accordance with published and known award criteria. The Ministry aims to award licenses during the first half of 2025. Licensees under an exploitation license must prepare a detailed work program tailored to the area covered by the license and the resources that are assumed to be there. Such activity is assumed to have minimal environmental impacts but will contribute to important knowledge and competence building. The work program will normally have submission of a plan for exploitation or relinquishment of the area as the final milestone.

Licensees will also be required to share data with the authorities, which is important for building knowledge about resources, the environment and natural assets. Norway will have a step-by-step and responsible development of seabed mineral activities on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Awarding exploitation licenses is a necessary prerequisite for any future exploitation of seabed minerals. However, an award does not mean that exploitation can begin. Before any exploitation can begin, the licensees must have proven that there are resources in place, identified a technical solution that makes production profitable and made an investment decision for the project. The licensees must then prepare an exploitation plan, which includes conducting an impact assessment process, which must be approved by the Ministry. In order for the Ministry to approve specific exploitation plans, the plan must show that the project can be implemented in a sustainable and responsible manner. The first plans must also be submitted to the Norwegian Parliament.

The consultation proposal is based on the updated knowledge that emerged through the opening process and on which the opening decision was based. The impact assessment that was part of the opening process shows, among other things, that exploration activity will only have minor environmental impacts. The impact assessment also showed that with the extent of fishing and possible area conflicts/impacts of seabed mineral activities, it is difficult to envisage significant consequences for fisheries within the opened area. As stated in the management strategy for the industry, the Ministry will base its announcement of areas on new, updated knowledge obtained by both state and commercial actors. On this basis, input is requested on areas that may be relevant to exempt for environmental and coexistence reasons in the consultation.