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Norway plans to expand its restricted area for upstream Arctic activity

The Norwegian government has proposed to extend its forbidden area for oil exploration in the country’s Arctic waters (so-called ice edge boundary). The new limit is located where sea ice appeared 15% of the time in April from 1988 to 2017, whereas the previous boundary was based on 30% probability and the years between 1967 and 1989. The new line remains sufficiently far north and doesn't affect existing explorations licences. The new no-go zone proposal will be presented for approval to the parliament. Once the text is adopted, the country expects to launch its 25th oil exploration licensing round.

According to forecasts from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), Norway’s crude oil production should rise by 44% between 2019 and 2024, from 1.41 mb/d in 2019 to 1.76 mb/d in 2020 and 2.02 mbd/d in 2024, as major oilfields Sverdrup and Castberg will progressively enter production. Despite a 4% increase in exploration activity in 2019 with 57 wells spudded during the year, the NPD anticipates a decline in 2020, with only 50 wells. In 2019, the majority of exploration activity took place in North Sea (65%), followed by Norwegian Sea (26%) and Barents Sea (9%).

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