OSLO, Norway, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The Norwegian government announced there was a strong expression of interest from the energy industry in licenses available on the continental shelf.
Lundin Petroleum and Norwegian major Statoil were among those securing licenses in the latest Norwegian auction. Lundin said it was awarded seven exploration licenses while Statoil was awarded interests in 14 production licenses.
Norwegian Petroleum Minister Ola Borten Moe said the expressions of interest confirmed strong offshore potential.
"I am pleased to see strong, broad-based interest in the most well-known parts of the continental shelf," he said in a statement. "This year's licensing round confirms that Norway's combination of framework conditions and geological opportunities is internationally competitive."
The government said the licensing round was for mature areas on the continental shelf.
Norway is the largest oil producer in Europe and the second-largest exporter of natural gas after Russia. Production is expected to decline this year but rebound by 2014.
An assessment of the undiscovered resources and new discoveries prompted the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate to increase the estimate of total resources on the Norwegian continental shelf nearly 4 percent to 480 billion cubic feet of oil equivalents.