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Exploration drilling

Operators must obtain consent to conduct exploration drilling. The consent scheme has been established to ensure that appropriate status points are established in the operator's activities, and that the authorities have supervision of central decision points in the operator's activities.

Issuance of a consent expresses the authorities' confidence that the operator can carry out the activity within the framework of the regulations and in accordance with the information provided in the application for consent.

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) normally takes four weeks to consider an application for consent. Time must also be allotted for handling of any appeals or complaints regarding decisions, so that the total processing time is nine weeks.

Applications pursuant to requirements for environmental documentation
The Norwegian Environment Agency enforces the Pollution Act, and processes documents dealing with regulatory requirements related to the external environment, including emission permits and the companies' analyses of environmental risk and emergency preparedness / oil spill preparedness in connection with an exploration activity.

The Norwegian Environment Agency sends out environmental documentation for consultation, with a deadline for comments of approximately eight weeks. The Norwegian Environment Agency estimates a processing time of about 13 weeks, however, if there is a complaint, the time period will also depend on processing by the Ministry of the Environment.

Coordinated decisions
The responsible authorities – the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, the Norwegian Environment Agency and the Norwegian Board of Health – will handle the various parts of an application for consent, with appurtenant documents/applications, in accordance with their areas of authority.

Consents are granted by the PSA, which has a coordinating role vis-à-vis the other authorities.

The AoC scheme
A mobile drilling facility may not be used in exploration activities on the Norwegian shelf until the rig owner has secured an Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) for the facility.

The AoC is a statement from the PSA confirming that the technical condition of a mobile drilling facility, as well as the applicant's organisation and management systems, have been evaluated and are deemed to be in compliance with relevant requirements in the Norwegian shelf regulations.

The scheme for mobile drilling facilities was implemented as a voluntary scheme on 1 August 2000, and was made mandatory from 1 January 2004.