Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The government of Norway, one of Europe's leading oil and gas producers, said it signed off on new exploration and production opportunities in the North Sea.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said it gave a permit to Aker BP to start drilling in the Lotus license area of the North Sea. The target site is about 9 miles away from the Froy field in the North Sea and will be a wildcat well for the company, one drilled in an area not previously proved to hold hydrocarbons.
"This is the seventh well to be drilled in the license," the NPD said in a statement.
In its latest financial disclosure, Aker BP, a merger of Norwegian energy companies and a subsidiary of BP, raised its guidance for output this year. First quarter production was 145.3 million barrels of oil equivalent, an increase of 14.8 percent from the previous quarter. The company said it expects to produce between 135 million barrels of oil equivalent and 140 million barrels of oil equivalent per day for all of 2017, an upward revision of about 5 percent.
Elsewhere, the Petroleum Safety Authority said it gave Norwegian major Statoil consent to send a mobile drilling facility to drill and complete production wells at its Valemon field in the North Sea. Valemon holds 192 million barrels of oil equivalent, with most of that existing as natural gas.
Most of the new discoveries made offshore Norway have been in the North Sea, but the largest are in the Barents Sea.
Preliminary figures from the NPD for July show total average daily production of oil, natural gas liquids and condensate, an ultra-light form of oil, was 2 million barrels, an increase of 93,000 bpd from the previous month.
Norway is one of the largest oil and natural gas producers in the world and, apart from Russia, the top exporter to the European market, designating nearly all of what it producers offshore to the foreign market.