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Oil and Gas Exploration

Orkustofnun grants licences for prospecting, exploration and production of hydrocarbons. Applications for non-exclusive, prospecting licences are accepted at any time, whereas applications for exclusive, exploration and production licences are accepted in licensing rounds.

Exploration for oil and gas on the Icelandic Continental Shelf is in an early phase. However, there is a considerable amount of geophysical data available, including academic, governmental, and industry datasets.

Iceland Continental Shelf Portal

The Iceland Continental Shelf Portal is a system for online viewing of diverse information about data pertaining to the Icelandic Continental Shelf, in particular the northern Dreki Area.

Exploration Areas

Two areas on the Icelandic Continental Shelf are thought to have potential for commercial  accumulations of oil and gas. They are Dreki east and northeast of Iceland and Gammur on the northern insular shelf of Iceland.


Licensing for hydrocarbons

Hydrocarbon accumulations are owned by the Icelandic State and a licence from the Orkustofnun is required for prospecting, exploration and production of hydrocarbons. The Hydrocarbon Act has provisions for two types of licences: a prospecting licence, and an exploration and production licence.

Legal and Regulatory Framework

Hydrocarbon activities are subject to a specific legislation, i.e. the Hydrocarbons Act and the rules laid down by the Hydrocarbons Regulation and the accompanying Hydrocarbons Rules. In addition, various legislation on health, safety and the environment (HSE) may also apply to hydrocarbon activities.