Government of Norway

05/08/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/08/2024 04:09

Announcement of areas through APA 2024

The Norwegian Ministry of Energy is today announcing this year's licensing round on the Norwegian continental shelf - APA 2024. The annual rounds of awards in predefined areas (APA) give oil companies the opportunity to gain access to attractive acreage in the mature areas of the Norwegian shelf. This year, the APA acreage will be expanded by a total of 37 bocks in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea.

'We need further exploration to make new discoveries that in turn pave the way for investments to maintain production. This is important to safeguard jobs, income for the community and Europe's energy security. Access to new, attractive acreage through the APA system is a pillar of the government's petroleum policy', said Minister of Energy Terje Aasland.

Awards in Predefined Areas is an annual licensing round that convers the mature areas on the Norwegian continental shelf. After more than 50 years of exploration activity, the APA rounds currently cover most of the area that has been opened and is available on the Norwegian continental shelf. The APA rounds are important for providing oil companies with attractive areas on the continental shelf.

In connection with APA 2024, the APA acreage is expanded with 37 blocks or parts of blocks. Three of the additional blocks are in the northwest of the Norwegian Sea and 34 blocks are in the east of the Barents Sea.

The deadline to apply for APA 2024 is 12.00 noon on Tuesday, 3rd of September 2024. The aim is to award the new production licenses for the newly announces areas in the beginning of 2025.

Full announcement text, updated map of the announced blocks, HSE, environmental and fisheries conditions and further information is available on the Norwegian Offshore Directorate's website.


The Norwegian oil and gas industry is the country's largest and most important industry in terms of value creation, government revenues, exports and investments. In order to maintain activity in the long term, it is important to have continuity in exploration activity. Exploration provides opportunities for new discoveries that can be developed and help to maintain activity and production. In mature areas, new discoveries are important for achieving good capacity utilization in production and transport facilities and for good management of time-critical resources.

Petroleum activities in Norway are subject to strict requirements for health, safety and the environment. Great emphasis is placed on ensuring good coexistence with other industries.

The APA-system was introduced in 2003 to facilitate timely exploration of the geologically best-known parts of the shelf. In these areas, the expected size of discoveries is decreasing. There is a great deal of exploration for smaller discoveries that cannot justify an independent development, but which can be very profitable when viewed in conjunction with other discoveries and/or can utilize existing or planned infrastructure. Timely exploration of these areas is therefore important. Predictability as to which areas it is possible to apply for in the APA and a steady supply of new acreage are important to achieve effective exploration. APA rounds are therefore conducted annually. When an announcement is made, an assessment is made of whether the APA area should be expanded. The area is expanded as new areas are explored.

APA licensing rounds start with an assessment of whether the APA acreage should be expanded. The petroleum assessment is made by the Norwegian Offshore Directorate. When expanding the predefined area, the authorities propose areas that are characterized as mature in petroleum terms. Based on the definition of petroleum mature and immature areas, this is, in accordance with long-standing practice, operationalized to the following petroleum criteria, where one or more are used as a basis for the proposal:

  • Area close to infrastructure. This includes both existing and planned infrastructure. Any resources in the areas are considered time critical.
  • Area with exploration history. This includes areas that have previously been awarded and relinquished, areas with known plays and areas that lie between awarded and relinquished areas.
  • Areas adjacent to existing predefined areas, but which have not been applied for in numbered rounds.
  • Consideration for maintaining exploration activity and production on the continental shelf is also emphasized when assessing extensions of the APA area.

Based on petroleum assessments, the APA acreage for APA 2024 will be expanded by 37 blocks or parts of blocks, including 34 blocks in the Barents Sea and 3 blocks in the Norwegian Sea. The area now included in the APA acreage was opened before 1994. The area contains acreage with known plays and exploration history, including previous exploration wells, relinquished acreage and acreage geographically located between awarded and relinquished acreage. Furthermore, acreage bordering on existing predefined acreage is included. Parts of the area are included in order to be able to prove time-critical resources that can be linked to existing and planned infrastructure.

Assessment of the Consultation Responses

The proposal for announcement of APA 2024 has been on public consultation. The Ministry sent the proposal for public consultation on 31 of January 2024, with a deadline on 13th of March. In the consultation round, the Ministry requested input on whether new, significant information relevant to the decision on where petroleum activity may take place has become available since the relevant management plan was considered by the Parliament in Meld. St. 28 (2010-2011) An industry for the future - Norway's petroleum activities and Innst. 143 S (2011-2012).

The Ministry of Energy received a total of 29 consultation responses from companies, organizations, government agencies, the Sami Parliament and other ministries. The consultation statements have been assessed and have formed part of the decision-making basis for today's announcement of APA 2024.

Several of the consultation responses concerned petroleum activities and climate considerations. Such statements fall outside the mandate of the consultation but has been noted. Norwegian climate policy is based on the principles of the UN-led climate cooperation, including the Paris Agreement. There is extensive regulation of emissions to air from the sector. The petroleum industry is subject to a strict emissions regulation regime endorsed by the Norwegian Parliament, and it is up to the companies to explore for, develop and extract the resources that are profitable within this framework. In connection with the processing of development plans, assessments of financial climate risk and production and combustion emissions are made in accordance with the regulations. The consultation is not about Norwegian climate policy, but about any new, significant information that is relevant to the Parliament's decision on where there may be petroleum activity.

Several of the consultation responses concern the APA-system and the implementation of APA 2024. Such statements fall outside the mandate of the consultation but has been noted. This is not a consultation on the continuation of the APA system, but on any new, significant information that is relevant to the Parliament's decision on where there may be petroleum activity.

Some of the consultation responses argue against parts of the announcement as a result of general, known environmental issues, including those related to particularly valuable and vulnerable areas (SVO areas). These arguments were known and considered when the Parliament established the current framework for the petroleum industry. The consultation responses are not considered to contain new, significant information that is relevant to the Parliament's decision on where petroleum activities may take place. Such input has been noted. The Ministry would also like to point out that the government recently presented a new white paper, Meld. St. 21 (2023-2024) Helhetlige forvaltningsplaner for de norske havområdene, with updated management plans for the ocean areas. In this process, new information has been considered by the government and presented to the Parliament. The framework for petroleum activities in the report will be used as the basis for the announcement of APA 2024.

The fisheries have been taken into account through the general terms included in the license documents and through established regulations. Terms for spawning areas for Northeast Arctic cod are included in the terms for APA 2024. These spawning areas are not included in the technical basis for the latest management plan with such block-specific precision as indicated by the Institute of Marine Research's advice in connection with specific assessments of activity in the area. The change entails seismic restrictions for certain blocks in the Barents Sea.

The Parliament is expected to have processed Meld. St. 21 (2023-2024) before the award of licenses. The award of new licenses under APA 2024 is planned for the beginning of 2025 and will be in line with the framework set by the Parliament of processing of Meld. St. 21 (2023-2024).

APA 2024 will be announced in line with the area proposal for announcement that has been on public consultation with a consultation deadline of March 13, 2024, adjusted for the area-related framework for petroleum activities presented in Meld. St. 21 (2023-2024), as well as expansion of certain detailed terms related to the acquisition of seismic data as a result of input in the consultation round.