As part of the 29th licensing round, the selected companies will undertake further oil and gas exploration and production covering 111 blocks targeting under-explored areas of the UKCS.

The licensing round, which secured 24 bids for 113 blocks, is the first in two decades to focus on frontier areas, which includes Rockall Basin, Mid-North Sea High, and part of the East Shetland Platform

OGA CEO Andy Samuel said: “The £20m investment in new seismic for the Rockall and Mid-North Sea High areas, subsequent release of 40,000km of new and reprocessed data, combined with the work of the MER UK Exploration Task Force in developing the Innovate License, and a stable and competitive fiscal regime has resulted in a number of quality applications in this frontier Licensing Round.”

The licensing round, which marks the launch of the ‘Innovate License’ concept, is part OGA’s plan to maximize economic recovery (MER) from the UKCS.

The Innovate License concept is intended to allow licensees to work with the UK’s oil and gas industry regulator to design an optimal work program for more appropriate phasing of activity, rental fees and competency tests, and implement a stage-gate process for better progress monitoring.

Samuel added: “While exploration activity has undoubtedly suffered as a result of the difficult market conditions, we are now seeing highly encouraging success rates and finding costs on the UKCS.”

Samuel noted that the upcoming 30th offshore licensing round will focus on mature areas.

Expected to be the ‘most significant’ round in recent decades, the 30th round is planned to be announced later in second quarter of 2017.

Image: UK intends to maximize economic recovery from the UK Continental Shelf. Photo: courtesy of num_skyman/