The Norwegian oil and energy ministry has received applications from 33 companies for oil and gas licenses in so-called mature offshore areas, it said on Sept. 25.

The number of applications was the same as for last year’s round. The ministry said it aimed to award licenses in early 2021.

In June, the ministry decided to offer 36 news blocks in the western part of the Norwegian Sea, close to areas that have been previously explored.

The ministry said companies expressed interest both in newly offered and previously added blocks.

Companies included international oil majors ConocoPhillips , Shell and Total, as well as Norway's Equinor, and independents such as Aker BP and Lundin, it added.