Dozens of companies have applied for acreage in the latest oil and gas exploration round in Norway, though it is the lowest figure in recent years.
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has received 26 applications for the annual offshore auction, covering the brunt of available exploration space around Norway.
This year the directorate has expanded the regions on offer to include 28 new blocks around the Barents Sea, as well as acreage in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea.
It comes as the UK is due to launch its own offshore licensing round this autumn; its first since 2020.
The NPD said the figures represent “significant interest” and covers “most of the companies that are active on the Norwegian shelf”.
Awards are expected to be made in Q1 next year.
Kalmar Ildstad, director of licence management in the NDP, said: “It’s gratifying to note the continuing significant interest in investigating new exploration acreage, given the many awards made in the most recent Awards in Predefined Areas processes.”
Norway’s minister for petroleum and energy, Terje Aasland, said: “We need exploration and new discoveries to maintain the production of oil and gas over time, which is important both for Norway and Europe.
“The applications show very good interest among the companies active on the Norwegian continental shelf in exploring for new petroleum resources.”
Last week, the UK’s new prime minister Liz Truss confirmed a new licensing round for the UK, expected to yield more than 100 licences.
It comes amid a rush to boost UK domestic energy supply with the aim of becoming a net exporter by 2040.
The government has confirmed there will be no further details on the round until after the Queen’s funeral on Monday.