Norway Will Not Issue Oil and Gas Exploration Licenses Until 2025

Norway will not issue exploration licenses for oil and gas in frontier areas during the life of the current parliament, which ends in 2025, the country’s oil and energy minister Aasland said. The decision to postpone the 26th licensing round was part of the minority government’s budget deal with the opposition Socialist Left Party (SV). SV wants Norway to stop exploring for new oil resources to fight climate change. Norway is EU’s biggest supplier of natural gas and a major oil exporter.

“SV has had this as a demand for this year and we went along with that. And have accepted that this can be held off for this parliamentary period,” Aasland said.

The government SV made a deal last year after the elections, which postponed the 26th licensing round by a year.

Aasland said authorities still issue licenses to oil companies in a parallel licensing around called the APA, in so-called mature areas that are already open to oil companies.

The 26th licensing round grants the right to oil companies to explore and produce oil and gas in areas not explored previously.

Aasland argued that the importance of numbered licensing rounds are not as important as before, and maintaining activity are more important.

“And there we have been clear: these will continue, they will be the basis for how we develop the shelf going forward,” he added.

Still, state-owned energy company Equinor voiced concern after the decision.

“We are worried that the framework conditions (for) the oil and gas industry in Norway are being challenged twice a year with a budget and then with the updated budget,” Equinor CEO Opedal said.

“We are also worried that the industry was not asked for advice before the decision was made.”

The government, in power since last year and led by Labour Party Prime Minister Støre, has pledged to “develop, not phase out” offshore petroleum production, Norway’s biggest industry.

However, it is reliant on SV to pass next year’s budget.

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