Companies are required to have a licence to explore for hydrocarbons. At the granting of a licence one or more companies are given the right to explore and produce within a defined area.
Licences are granted through licensing rounds and via the Open Door procedure. In Denmark six licensing rounds have been held, the latest one was in 2005/2006. The latest licensing rounds comprised all non-licensed areas west of 6°15' eastern longitude.
In 1997 an Open Door procedure was introduced, with an annual open period from January 2 to September 30. The Open Door procedure covers all non-licensed areas east of 6°15’ eastern longitude.