Statoil has submitted its application to the Norway authorities for the 23rd licensing round on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCF), the first opening of new acreage in the area since 1994.

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is expected to announce the licences around mid-2016.

The acreage includes the south-east of the Barents Sea area, which was clarified as Norwegian territory under the border agreement with Russia that came into force in 2011.

Acreage in the Hoop-Wisting area, which opened in the 22nd round, is also on offer.

"The acreage offered is interesting and important and we hope we will earn the opportunity to drill as early as in 2017."

Statoil Exploration Norway senior vice-president Jez Averty said: "Statoil has been the guarantor for exploration and development in the Barents Sea since the mid-1980s and we have a clear ambition to remain in that role.

"The acreage offered is interesting and important and we hope we will earn the opportunity to drill as early as in 2017.

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"Acreage in the 23rd round has significant volume potential, but nevertheless, there is a debate where some say that these resources will not be commercial."

As part of its preparations for the 23rd round application, the company developed technology solutions that will reduce the break-even price per barrel for the discoveries that would be made in the Barents Sea.

Sixteen companies are cooperating in the Barents Sea Exploration Collaboration project to find common solutions for exploration operations in the region.

Image: The 23rd licensing round represents the first opening of new acreage on the NCS since 1994. Photo: © Statoil.