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Norway sees sustained interest in offshore reserves

Interest in latest offerings are somewhat lower than last year, though government undeterred.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Norway sees sustained interest in offshore reserves
Norwegian government said interest is more or less stable in aging oil and gas reserve areas in its territorial waters. File Photo by James Jones Jr./Shutterstock

STAVANGER, Norway, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Though slightly less than when compared with last year, the Norwegian government said it's still seeing interest in aging oil and gas deposits off its coast.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said it received applications from 33 companies for the rights to work in about 54,000 square miles of area off the nation's coast.

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"It is very positive that so many companies still believe that more oil and gas can be discovered on the most mature parts of the shelf," Sissel Eriksen, an exploration director at the NPD, said in a statement.

Last year, 43 companies submitted applications to work in about 49,250 square miles offshore. Awards were issued to 36 companies last year.

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While companies are interested in all of the options in Norwegian waters, the government said most have gravitated toward areas in the North and Norwegian Seas.

Norwegian energy company Statoil in late August said it would extend its reach into the Barents Sea next year in an effort to replenish its exploration portfolio. The company already has a rig on contract suitable for operations in northern waters and said it's slated to drill up to seven wells in the region in 2017.

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About half of the 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent yet to be discovered in Norwegian waters are in the Barents Sea.

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The NPD preliminary production figures hydrocarbons for August show a 9.5 percent decline from the previous month. The government office said the decline was not as low as expected considering at least one field in Norwegian waters was closed for maintenance.

Preliminary production figures for July showed oil, natural gas liquid and condensate were on the rise because fields in production were contributing more to the overall volumes than initially expected.

Norway is a main oil and gas supplier to the European economy.

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