STAVANGER, Norway, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The Norwegian government said it gave its consent for new oil and natural gas operations offshore in the North Sea and Barents Sea, with Statoil the big winner.
Statoil was granted consent by the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway to operate at three different sites this week. The most significant of those three was consent to drill three wells at the Snohvit natural gas field in the Barents Sea.
The Norwegian government confirmed a sizable discovery of oil and natural gas at the Snohvit field in the Barents Sea two years ago at 525 billion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas and more than 130 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves.
Statoil received consent to conduct maintenance and other operations at two sites in the North Sea. Energy company Det Norske got the OK to use a floating facility for personnel at the Ivar Aasen field, which should go into production later this year.
"The consent applies until Feb. 1, but will continue to be valid if the start-up period extends beyond schedule," the regulator said in a statement.
Norway is the largest oil producer and the third-largest natural gas producer in Europe. It's the second-largest supplier of natural gas to Europe after Russia. Nearly three quarters of the oil it produces is exported to European countries.
Data gathered by Statistics Norway, the government's record-keeping agency, found total investments in oil, gas, manufacturing, mining and electricity for 2015 were around $28 billion, down 9.4 percent year-on-year.
By the government's estimate, there are roughly 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent yet to be discovered in Norwegian waters. Half of that is in the Barents Sea, with the rest distributed in the North and Norwegian seas.