Carried out ahead of the eighth offshore licensing round in 1983, this move reflected Elf’s desire for a presence in a region which offered new opportunities for the petroleum industry.
The fifth licensing round in 1979 had opened the way for oil exploration above the 62nd parallel (which marked the northern boundary of the North Sea). Three production licences were awarded in this area in January 1980, one on the Halten Bank in the Norwegian Sea and two on the Tromsø Patch in the Barents Sea. Harstad was selected in this context as the main base for exploration drilling.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Report to the Storting no 57 (1978-79): Petroleum exploration above the 62nd parallel, p 83.
The three Norwegian oil companies – Saga Petroleum, Statoil and Norsk Hydro, were given operatorships. Demands that oil companies should become involved in various projects to benefit the community, preferably within industry and research, were also made in this licensing round. One example of such schemes was the construction of the Finnmark Aquaculture Centre in Hammerfest by the county council and Elf.
In connection with the start to exploration drilling off northern Norway, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate opened a branch office in Harstad during 1980. Statoil also opened an office there in the same year, which meant that a petroleum community had become established in the town. The companies hoped that having their own offices in northern Norway would pay off in the form of more awards in forthcoming licensing rounds. The government initially gave priority to Norwegian companies above the 62nd parallel, but foreign companies also eventually became involved. Elf and Esso were awarded operatorships on the Tromsø Patch in March 1984. In cooperation with north Norwegian industrial companies, training schemes were established for employees. Several information campaigns about Elf were conducted in the region, including school visits and courses for teachers.Phase III – compressors on TCP2Elf becomes Tromsø Patch operator