STAVANGER, Norway, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Sissel Eriksen, exploration director in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, said energy companies find Norwegian offshore reserves attractive prospects.
The NPD, the country's energy regulator, awarded 65 production licenses to 48 companies for work on the Norwegian continental shelf.
"It is clear that the oil companies still consider it interesting to explore for oil and gas in mature areas," she said in a statement Tuesday.
Of the 65 production licenses, the NPD said 38 are in the Norwegian waters of the North Sea, 19 are in the Norwegian Sea and eight are in the Barents Sea.
Norwegian energy company Statoil secured 10 licenses off the coast of Norway and will serve as the operator at seven of the reserve areas.
Irene Rummelhoff, a vice president in charge of exploration in the region, said the licenses are necessary to maintain offshore production levels through 2020.
Lundin Petroleum, which secured nine licenses, and Maersk Oil, which secured five licenses, were among the other companies securing access to the Norwegian continental shelf.
Norway is one of the leading oil and natural gas producers in Europe. Combined, discoveries off the Norwegian coast last year amounted to more than 600 million barrels of oil and 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, NPD said.