Forty-four oil companies applied by the deadline of 1 June 1978. Responsibility for assessing these applications rested for the first time with the recently-established Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. Norsk Hydro had withdrawn from the Petronord collaboration, while the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and state oil company Statoil were in place.
Awards were made in early 1979 and gave Elf a single licence interest of 13.5 per cent in the “silver” block, 30/6 – which proved to contain the Oseberg field. All but one of the applicants had named this block as their first choice. Statoil became operator for 30/6 with Elf as its technical assistant.
The latter job primarily involved keeping fully up to date and monitoring exploration and drilling operations to ensure that they were executed in a safe manner.
Being technical assistant gave a company weight, and was a sign that the authorities had confidence in it. Elf was accordingly satisfied to be given this role on the silver block, since it could thereby establish a collaboration with Statoil as Norway’s leading oil company. The operatorship was later transferred to Hydro. Oseberg proved to be a goldmine. Elf’s holding corresponded to about a quarter of the revenues from Frigg.Queen Elizabeth opens St FergusPhase II – Norwegian share of Frigg on stream