LONDON – Britain’s 30th offshore licensing round drew 96 applications across 239 blocks in the main oil and gas producing areas of the UK continental shelf (UKCS), according to the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA).
Sixty-eight companies applied, ranging from multi-nationals to would-be new entrants to the UK.
The 30th Round, which closed today, offered acreage in the southern, central and northern North Sea, west of Shetland and the East Irish Sea, and an aggregate area of 114,426 sq km (28,275,280 acres).
On offer were many prospects and undeveloped discoveries. In support of the round, the OGA provided various digital data packages, and co-hosted a technology event with the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.
Applicants used the new Innovate Licence that the OGA had developed with the industry. Awards should follow next spring.
Nick Richardson, OGA’s Head of Exploration and New Ventures, said: “Despite the difficult economic environment, industry has responded strongly to this round, confirming the high remaining potential of the UKCS.
“The focus on regions with existing infrastructure provided companies with an excellent opportunity to take a fresh look at a large inventory of opportunities from which to rebuild their portfolios to help sustain future production.
“Efforts by the OGA to provide new data, analysis, and insights has stimulated a number of high-quality applications. Together with the added advantages of flexible licensing, technology development and improvements to the oil and gas fiscal regime, this has evidently created the right conditions to support continued investment in the UKCS.”
The 31st Round is due to open in mid-2018, offering potentially high-impact exploration acreage over under-explored areas of the UKCS.
Ahead of the launch, OGA will release next Monday results of the 2016 UK government-funded offshore seismic campaign, with close to 19,000 km (11,806 mi) of new broadband seismic data to be made freely available, along with around 23,000 km (14,291 mi) of reprocessed legacy seismic and well data packages.
The data covers the East Shetland Platform, North West Scotland, South West Approaches, East Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, Cardigan Bay, Morecambe Bay, Bristol Channel and English Channel.
It will be accompanied by new geotechnical studies commissioned by the OGA to examine subsurface uncertainties in these areas.