Norwegian energy firm Statoil has been awarded interests in 12 new licences in the UK Continental Shelf.
The company will operate nine of the new licenses, which were announced by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Eleven of the licences are located in the North Sea, while the fnal one is situated west of the Hebrides.
Statoil said the new licences add about 8,000km² of additional acreage. Most of the licences are located in the vicinity of the company’s Mariner and Bressay projects.
The company aims to drill two exploration wells in 2015 in acreage acquired in an earlier UK licensing round.
Statoil continues development of the heavy-oil Mariner field, which is expected to start operations in 2017.
The company also operates the Bressay project and is a partner in the Jupiter and Alba producing fields.
Statoil senior vice-president for exploration Erling Vågnes said: "These awards strengthen our UK Continental Shelf portfolio significantly and underpin our long-term commitment as an operator in UK waters.
"This new acreage holds the potential for new high-value barrels in our greater North Sea core area, both near our existing heavy-oil projects, and in new areas. This is in line with Statoil’s exploration strategy of taking large, untested acreage positions and deepening existing core areas."
Statoil undertakes a range of activities relating to energy production and sales in the UK.
The company, which has a sales office for crude oil in London, supplies gas to the British market.
Image: Map of Statoil’s licences in the UK. Photo: courtesy of Statoil.