British oil and gas explorer Falkland Oil and Gas (FOGL) has said that northern licenses off the Falkland Islands have been extended.

The Falkland Islands Government (FIG) has agreed to extend the first phase of the northern 2004 licenses by one year, as per which they will now expire on 15 December 2011.

The company said that it was increasingly unlikely it would be able to commence the drilling at its northern license off the coast of the islands in 2010 as required by the current terms of the licenses due to difficulty in securing a rig.

However, BHP Billiton has elected not to enter the second phase of the southern 2002 licenses which begins on 3 December 2010, according to the company.

FOGL believes, based on the drilling results from the Toroa well analyzed to date, that these licenses are still prospective.

FOGL has encountered a number of prospects and leads which may prove to be of interest, particularly in the event of drilling success in the deepwater area of the northern licenses, or in the south, where the licenses are contiguous with acreage held by Borders and Southern Petroleum.

Having fulfilled all the work obligations of Phase 1, FOGL has therefore decided to enter the second phase of these licenses, which will entail the drilling of a single exploration well by 3 December 2015.

BHP Billiton will assign its 51% license interest to FOGL which takes FOGL’s interest back to 100%.