LONDON -- Britain’s Energy Minister Michael Fallon has invited bids for the UK’s 28th offshore licensing round.
“The licensing of new areas forms an essential part of our long-term economic plan by enabling the exploration necessary to ensure we fully realize our remaining reserves which could be as much as another 20 Bbbl,” Fallon said.
Some blocks excluded from earlier licensing rounds for environmental reasons will remain off-limits. This includes blocks in or overlapping with the boundaries of the Moray Firth off northeast Scotland, and Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation off West Wales.
Oonagh Werngren, Oil & Gas UK’s operations director, said the association welcomes the announcement of the latest licensing round.
“Exploration in the North Sea has been challenged in recent years in both the number of exploration wells being drilled and their success rates. Recent data from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) demonstrates that in 2011, the UK continental shelf (UKCS) experienced a 50% drop in the number of exploration wells drilled, a number which has so far yet to recover,” he said.
“Only 15 wells were drilled in 2013 and less than 100 MMboe were discovered in the last two years. Explorers cite access to rigs and equity capital as being the major contributing factors.
“Today’s announcement of the 28th offshore oil and gas licensing round will, we hope, encourage new applicants as well as established companies to explore the basin but industry needs to work collaboratively with HM Treasury and DECC [Department of Energy and Climate Change] in a tripartite arrangement as outlined by Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations from his Interim Report.”