The latest exploration licensing round offering acreage in mature areas off the coast of Norway has received 33 applications from oil companies.

The application deadline for awards in pre-defined areas (APA) 2016 was 6 September.

Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) exploration director Sissel Eriksen said: “It is very positive that so many companies still believe that more oil and gas can be discovered on the most mature parts of the shelf.

“We have received many exciting applications.

"Many companies still believe that more oil and gas can be discovered on the most mature parts of the shelf."

The oil companies have applied for acreage on the whole shelf and are interested in the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea.

Eriksen further added: "The application volume has remained consistently high in recent years, and this demonstrates that the companies also prioritise exploration in mature areas during times with challenging cost and price regimes."

NPD will now begin the work related to the technical evaluation of the applications.

Further, the applicants’ geological concepts and strategy for exploring the areas are also being evaluated.

At the application deadline, companies could apply for a total of 139,942km², while the available area in APA 2015 was 127,608km².

The APA 2016 was announced by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy on 17 March and comprised the predefined areas with blocks in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea.