OSLO, Norway, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- The number of energy companies expressing interest in the Norwegian continental shelf supports long-term growth for the region, the government said.
The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said it expected to award licenses from its 22nd auction on the continental shelf by mid-2013. It received applications from 36 companies from the licensing round.
Norwegian Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said he was optimistic about the broad interest expressed in offshore acreage.
"The positive exploration results achieved on the Norwegian continental shelf in recent years are an important starting point for our efforts to maintain activity levels on the Norwegian continental shelf in the long term," he said in a statement.
Last month, Oslo said it had expected to produce around 1.6 million barrels of oil per day for 2012. It said oil production on the Norwegian continental shelf has increased since September but was 12 percent below the forecast for October.
Petroleum reserves on the Norwegian continental shelf last year were estimated at about 80 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Norway is the largest oil producer in Europe and the second-largest exporter of natural gas after Russia.