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Norwegian petroleum and energy minister Tod Lien. Image courtesy of Statoil/Youtube.

Norway’s government has pushed back an Arctic focused oil and gas licensing round until 2015 as upstreams curb capital spending amid slumping oil prices.

The country’s oil ministry did not comment on the reason behind the delay and did not specify a new time table for the licensing round.

The round was set to be the first time Norway offered offshore Arctic blocks near its border with Russia.

Prior to the delay, the licensing process was expected to take about 24 to 30 months, Reuters said.

Norway began surveying oil firms in January about areas that should be offered during the licensing round.

About 40 companies expressed interest in obtaining licenses including Norway’s Statoil, Houston-based ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and BP.

Norway’s government received 160 nominations for blocks or sections of blocks.

The country’s oil ministry selected 61 blocks in the North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea for the licensing round.

Applications were expected to be collected during the second half of 2015 with awards being handed out in the first half of 2016.