OSLO, Norway, April 4 (UPI) -- The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced it was opening up acreage on its continental shelf to energy explorers.
The ministry said Thursday it was opening up six blocks in the Norwegian Sea and three blocks in the Barents Sea to bidders.
The government offered no estimate of the reserve potential from the acreage, though the ministry said most of the blocks are in mature oil and gas regions.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said it expected its estimate of offshore reserves could grow by 7.5 billion of oil during the next decade.
Norway is the European leader in oil production. In January, the last full month for which data are available, production averaged about 1.6 million barrels per day.
NPD Director Jan Bygdevoll said cost trends in the energy industry "pose a challenge" to increasing recovery from Norwegian oil and gas fields.
Applications for the Norwegian and Barents Seas acreage are due Sept. 2. Awards will be announced during the first quarter of 2015.