The UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has launched the 30th licensing round for offshore oil and gas exploration in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

The licensing round covers 813 blocks or part blocks in mature areas of the UKCS totalling an area of 114,426 km2.

Featuring a large inventory of prospects and undeveloped discoveries, the blocks that are offered in the licensing round are located in the Southern, Central and Northern North Sea, the West of Shetland and East Irish Sea.

For the 30th licensing round, the OGA will make use of the new Innovate Licence, which was developed in collaboration with industry for flexible, variable licences.

OGA Chief Executive Andy Samuel said: "The 30th Licensing Round offers companies a significant opportunity to rebuild their portfolios; taking advantage of the flexible Innovate Licence, technology and improvements to the UKCS fiscal regime. These factors combined mean now is a very good time to invest on the UKCS.

"We are encouraging companies to take a fresh look at large areas of acreage, some of which has not been available since 1965, and make best use of the recently released information and new data packs to inform their applications."

Recently, the OGA has released 140 datapacks on undeveloped discoveries, which are offered in the latest licensing round, to help companies in their technical assessments.

The 30th round is open until 21 November 2017 and the decisions are expected to be announced in the second quarter of next year.

After the completion of the current licensing round, the OGA will unveil the 31st licensing round, which is expected to once again focus on frontier areas of the UKCS

In March, the OGA awarded 25 licences for 111 blocks or part blocks to 17 companies for frontier areas of the UKCS in the 29th offshore licensing round.

Image: The 30th round is open until 21 November 2017. Photo: courtesy of num_skyman/