23 Jun Norway opens record number of oil exploration blocks in Arctic Sea
Norway opened a record number of blocks for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic Barents Sea this week, dismissing concerns about the risks of drilling in the remote environment.
A total of 102 blocks were offered by the Norwegian oil ministry, 93 in the Barents Sea and nine in the Norwegian Sea. Although Norway’s Environment Agency called for the removal of 20 blocks near Bear Island, an important nesting site for Arctic birds.
The application deadline for Norway’s 24th Arctic Licensing round is 30 November and the successful bidders are expected to be announced during the first half of 2018, the ministry said.
The 93 new blocks in the Barents Sea beat the previous record of 72 blocks offered in Norway’s 22nd round of licensing.
The country’s Petroleum Directorate (NPD), which regulates the industry, said drilling in the Barents Sea was Norway’s best chance of making new oil and gas discoveries.
“Therefore it’s important to facilitate acreage for exploration in this area,” the NPD said in a statement. “There’s great interest, which also reflects the fact that 2017 is set to become a record year for exploration in the Barents Sea.”