OSLO- Norway awarded 53 new petroleum production licences on the Norwegian continental shelf in the latest licensing round for mature areas, the oil and energy ministry said on Tuesday.

Stakes were offered to 28 oil companies in the so-called APA 2021 round offering offshore licences for exploring and producing petroleum, including 5 licences in the Arctic Barents Sea, the ministry said.

Norwegian state-controlled Equinor EQNR.OL won stakes in 26 licences, of which it will operate 12.

Aker BP AKRBP.OL got stakes in 15 licences of which the Norwegian independent oil firm will operate seven.

Sweden's Lundin Energy LUNE.ST was awarded stakes in 10 licences, including five operatorships.

Last December, Aker BP announced it was buying Lundin's oil and gas business in Norway to create the country's second-largest listed player after Equinor. 

Eni's Norwegian subsidiary Vaar Energy ENI.MI also won stakes in 10 licenses, including five operatorships, three of which are in the Barents Sea.

Among other international players, ConocoPhillips won three operatorships, Shell  got stakes in two licences including one operatorship, and TotalEnergies got a stake in one licence.

The oil and energy ministry said awarding new licences is aimed at ensuring stable activity on the Norwegian continental shelf.

"Further exploration activity and new discoveries are crucial to develop the Norwegian petroleum industry further," Minister of Oil and Energy Marte Mjoes Persen said.

Norway is set to boost its petroleum output by more than 9% by 2024, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) forecast on Jan. 13. 

Greenpeace described the government's decision to award licences at a time when the world is facing a climate crisis as "insane" and said it should instead focus on developing new green industries to protect jobs in the future.

(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by Nora Buli and Jason Neely) ((nerijus.adomaitis@thomsonreuters.com; +47 9027 6699; Reuters Messaging: nerijus.adomaitis.thomsonreuters@reuters.net))