This "is the most extensive licensing round ever undertaken on the Norwegian continental shelf, in terms of both the number of companies and the number of production licences awarded," Petroleum and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said in a statement.
The government said 34 licences were offered in North Sea, 22 in the Norwegian Sea and four in the Barents Sea.
Among the 42 companies offered new licences on Tuesday was Norway's state-owned energy giant Statoil, which was given participation in 11 licences, including eight operatorships.
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French companies GDF Suez and Total, US companies ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, Italian Eni, Japanese Idemitsu, Swedish Lundin and German companies EON and RWE also figured on the list.