Norway plans to open more acreage in Arctic waters
(Wall Street Journal; June 26) - Norway plans to award new drilling licenses for dozens of blocks in Arctic waters as early as 2013, Norway's oil ministry said June 26. Norway was the world's seventh biggest oil exporter in 2010 and looks to ride a swell of interest by awarding licenses for 72 blocks or partial blocks of acreage in the Barents Sea and 14 locations in the Norwegian Sea, Oil Minister Ola Borten Moe said. Applications for licenses are due Dec. 4, and Norway will complete the licensing by next summer.
"We are now experiencing record levels of interest in the Barents Sea," Moe said. Norway also will open up a research facility in one of its northernmost cities with plans to tackle the challenges involved in drilling for oil in the cold waters of the Arctic region. It will be partially funded by the oil and foreign ministries, and partially by the Norwegian oil industry.
Oil production - a key source of revenue for Norway's $600 billion sovereign wealth fund - in Norway has been falling since 2001, and production of oil and gas combined have declined since 2004. In order to buoy revenue, new production areas are needed to replace mature sources that have passed their peak.