Iceland issues offshore oil licenses

Jan 07, 2013 12:00 AM

Offshore oil and gas exploration will get under way for the first time off the coast of Iceland. The country's National Energy Authority issued its first offshore licenses January 4.

The licenses went to a consortium of Faroe Petroleum of the United Kingdom, Iceland Petroleum and Petoro, and to another consortium of Valiant Petroleum, Iceland Petroleum and Petoro.

Reuters reported that Iceland is hoping exploration of its rich energy resources will help boost the country's fragile economy. Iceland has been in a recession since 2009 when its largest banks collapsed.

"'It brings us some optimism that we have such possibilities," said Gudni Johannesson, director general of Iceland's National Energy Authority.

Norway also has rights to the offshore drilling area. Norway is the world's eighth-largest oil exporter and a spokesperson for Petoro - a Norway state-owned company - said the firm can contribute its knowledge in oil exploration in Iceland's waters.

It's estimated the drilling area could hold between 250 million and 500 million barrels of oil, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. There may also be large gas deposits - up to 100 billion standard cubic metres.

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