UK oil companies set to drill in the Arctic

British oil companies hold significant stakes in 7 of the 10 new oil licences in the Norwegian Arctic, Unearthed can reveal.

The licences were awarded as part of Norway’s 23rd licencing round, which includes blocks located further east and further north than ever before on the Norwegian shelf.

Oil major BP and wildcat explorer Cairn Energy lead the way, each with interests in three production licences in the Barents Sea.

British Gas owner, Centrica, and London-listed explorer Tullow Oil, hold stakes in a single block.  

BP’s interests are held through new firm Aker BP, which was established following the merger of BP Norge with Norwegian explorer Det norske.

Cairn’s stakes are owned through its subsidiary, Capricorn Norge AS.  


The rush by British oil companies to secure oil licences in the Norwegian Arctic comes after the Foreign Office talked up the opportunities for British business of a melting Arctic.

Last year Unearthed revealed that then foreign secretary Philip Hammond had presented a report to parliament in response to a Lords committee enquiry, outlining the support available for British mining companies wishing to explore in the Arctic.

Click here to view the Barents Sea oil drilling map up close