The Goliat platform was the first to produce oil in the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Slowdown in Barents Sea petroleum

Norwegian Government offers only two new production licenses for the Barents Sea this year.
January 10, 2023


The hunger for Barents Sea oil is on decrease among petroleum companies. What a decade ago was a big hope for big oil has been followed by a row of disappointments as one drilling well after the other has proved to contain more gas than oil.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in Oslo offered 47 new production licenses on the Norwegian continental shelf where companies were offered ownership interests. 

However, only two are in the Barents Sea, while 16 are in the Norwegian Sea and 29 are in the North Sea.

The Barents Sea is the northernmost oil drilling area in Europe, far inside the Arctic Circle.

It is Vår Energy, a company with ENI as main shareholder, that is given the licences as operator. Vår Energy today operates the Goliat field, Norway’s only oil producing field in the Barents Sea. The nearby Johan Castberg field is planned for production start-up in 2024.

Awards in the predefined Barents Sea areas for 2023 are the lowest in many years. 2019 was peak with 14 so-called Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) followed by 2020 (13), 2018 (8) and 2021 (3).

Although few production licenses, the Norwegians still maintain strong efforts to explore the northernmost waters. In 2021, 70 blocks in the Barents Sea were included in the licensing round for petroleum companies wanting to test-drill.



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