Adds companies, detail
OSLO, June 23 (Reuters) - Norway has awarded four exploration licences to seven oil companies in its Arctic-focused 25th licensing round, the government said on Wednesday as the country aims to continue to pump hydrocarbons for decades to come.
So-called numbered licensing rounds cover previously unexplored frontier areas of Norway's continental shelf, expanding the geographical reach of its oil and gas industry.
Three of the permits are in the Arctic Barents Sea, while the third is located further south, in the Norwegian Sea.
Norway's plans to continue with exploration in the Arctic and elsewhere have been criticized by environmentalists who say they contradict the Nordic country's international pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Equinor EQNR.OL received stakes in two of the permits, and will be the operator for both. Eni's ENI.MI Vaar Energi and Ineos E&P will each operate one licence.
Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L, Idemitsu 5019.T, Lundin Energy and OMV OMVV.VI also received stakes in the same blocks, but will not be operators.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Nora Buli)
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