Statoil and Norsk Hydro, Norway's two largest oil companies, won new oil and natural gas exploration licenses as the government seeks to stimulate production off its north western coast, the oil ministry said.
Norsk Hydro, Norway's second largest producer, won rights to drill at and also operate two fields. Statoil won one license, as did the Royal Dutch Shell Group, the Phillips Petroleum Company and Eni's Norsk Agip unit, the ministry said in a statement on its Website.
This licensing round is “important” for Norway, whose oil reserves have been forecast to decline after 2004, Oil Minister Einar Steensnaes has said. Eleven winners in all will take a chance of finding more oil and gas in 18 blocks beneath the Norwegian Sea.
“It's important to win attractive areas in this and coming licensing rounds, even though we still have to prove there is oil and gas there,” said Kristofer Hetland, a Statoil spokesman. The company said yesterday it will need new Norwegian licenses to keep domestic output from slumping after 2007.