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All companies wanting to pursue petroleum operations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) must be qualified as a licensee or operator. A prequalification process is provided to assess whether applicants meet government requirements.

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Companies participating in the Norwegian petroleum industry as licensees or operators must contribute to value creation on the NCS.

That could include contributing ideas which can provide new discoveries or possessing special expertise and interest in exploiting resources in small fields.

Players must also have health, safety and environmental (HSE) expertise which helps to enhance safe operation on the NCS.

Two regulators
Applicants are evaluated by us, reporting to the Ministry of Labour, and by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), reporting to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.

A final decision on prequalification is taken by these two ministries.

We and the NPD conduct a joint process of meetings with and visits to the company being assessed in order to save resources for both parties.

The two regulators nevertheless have independent roles and duties in connection with this assessment, and prepare separate and independent reports.

What is assessed?
In order to document its ability to add value, the applicant must demonstrate, for example, that it has expertise both in resource management (assessed by the NPD) and in HSE (assessed by us).

Capabilities which a company must document in order to show that it can comply with the obligations in the petroleum regulations for the NCS include:

  • expertise and capacity for HSE
  • an adequate management system
  • financial adequacy (considered by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and the Ministry of Finance).

We and the NPD use an evaluation form as an aid in the process of assessing new players. Access this evaluation form (in Word).

Expertise and capacity
A key requirement in the Norwegian Petroleum Act is that companies must have the necessary expertise and organisation in Norway.

By forming part of a professional Norwegian environment, they will be able to contribute to developing unique experience on the NCS while also benefiting from this.

Licensees must have a minimum of eight-nine staff in Norway with technical expertise in relevant disciplines in order to evaluate, understand and follow up activities in a licence.

Relevant disciplines include:

  • geology and geophysics
  • reservoir technology
  • production and other relevant technologies
  • HSE.

Operators must additionally have an organisation in Norway capable of fulfilling the duties they are required to discharge at any given time.

Moving from the role of licensee to that of an operator presents substantial challenges, which call for extra expertise and capacity to handle the work in an acceptable manner.

Background for prequalification
A desire to attract new competent players to the NCS was expressed in Report no 39 (1999-2000) to the Storting.

To ensure a predictable development and secure process for new companies seeking to become involved on the NCS, a scheme for prequalifying licensees and operators was adopted in 2000.

Prequalification provides a general assessment of the expertise, capacity and management of a company’s business. It also helps the applicant to become established on the NCS.

This scheme does not replace ordinary regulatory monitoring of the company.