The Norwegian Ministry of Energy has awarded ownership interests to 24 companies in the awards in pre-defined areas (APA) 2023 round across 62 offshore production licenses.

Norway’s annual exploration round, which is known as APA, focuses on the most mature regions of the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).

Among the production licenses awarded in the APA 2023 licensing round, 29 are situated in the North Sea, 25 are in the Norwegian Sea, while the remaining eight are in the Barents Sea.

Out of the 24 oil companies that have been extended invitations to participate in one or more of the licenses, 16 of them have been offered one or more operatorships. Each license is associated with a binding work programme.

In APA 2022, the number of licenses awarded were 47.

Norwegian Minister of Energy Terje Aasland said: “Awarding new licenses through the Awards in Predefined Areas is a pillar in the continued development of the Norwegian shelf.

“To see such great interest in further exploration activity is very encouraging. This is important for both employment and value creation, as well as for facilitating Norway’s role as a stable energy supplier to Europe.”

According to the Ministry, a production license provides the exclusive rights for exploration, drilling, and petroleum extraction within the designated geographical area covered by the license.

In the APA 2023 licensing round, Norwegian state-owned firm Equinor Energy was the most successful, winning 39 licenses, out of which it is the operator in 14.

Equinor bagged 18 production licences in the North Sea, 13 in the Norwegian Sea, and all the eight that were awarded in the Barents Sea.

Equinor Norwegian continental shelf subsurface senior vice president Jez Averty said: “We are pleased with the award. These licences give Equinor and our partners new opportunities to further develop the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) as an energy province.

“We are familiar with the geology and confident that we will make new discoveries.”

The other notable winners in the APA 2023 licensing round include Aker BP with 27, Vår Energi with 16, DNO Norge with 14, Wintershall Dea Norge with 13, and PGNiG Upstream Norway with 10.