The UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has launched 31st offshore licensing round, offering North Sea operators with blocks in frontier areas of the UK Continental Shelf for offshore oil and gas exploration.


Image: An offshore oil and gas rig. Photo: courtesy of QR9iudjz0/

Under the new licensing round, OGA is offering a total of 1766 blocks (370,000km2) in areas covering the West of Scotland, the East Shetland Platform, the Mid North Sea High, South West Britain and parts of the English Channel.

OGA is also offering a provision for companies to propose additional blocks in more mature areas, for potential inclusion.

The decision was made in response to the high levels of industry interest following the 30th licensing round, which awarded 123 licenses for 229 blocks or part blocks in the UKCS to 61 companies earlier this year.

OGA Chief Executive Dr Andy Samuel said: “Following hot on the heels of the strong industry response to the 30th Round, the OGA is opening up large areas of acreage to industry that offer the opportunity for high-impact exploration growth.

“The array of measures put in place by the OGA over the last two years, coupled with the UK’s highly attractive fiscal regime and openly-accessible data have laid the foundation for the ongoing revival in exploration activity across all areas of the UK Continental Shelf.”

The regulator said it has also made available about 80,000km worth of the seismic data to operators ahead of launch of licensing round. The government-funded data is intended to stimulate interest in the under-explored basins.

UK Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said: “Through our ambitious modern Industrial Strategy, we recognise the importance of information and insight to help drive business performance.

“That’s why we provided £40 million in the 2015 and 2016 Budgets for seismic surveys in under-explored frontier areas of the UK Continental Shelf, resulting in new data and new opportunities in this latest round of licensing.”

The OGA plans to open the 32nd Offshore Licensing Round in summer 2019, and will focus on mature areas of the UKCS.