NASA NorthSea

The UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has awarded 41 new licences to explore the UK Continental Shelf in the North Sea.

The new licences are in addition to the 134 confirmed in late-2014, which bring the total to 175 licences to explore 353 blocks.

The awarding of new licences has been confirmed following additional environmental assessment and consultation.

UK Oil and Gas Authority chief executive Andy Samuel said: "The UK Continental Shelf remains a world-class hydrocarbon province where significant resources and economic value remain to be realised.

"The good level of interest in the 28th Round highlights the continued attractiveness of the UK’s oil and gas resources.

"We are determined to make the most of our North Sea resources."

"Licences are however just a start and industry, government and the OGA now need to work together to revitalise exploration activity across the basin and convert licences into successful exploration wells."

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During the next session of parliament, the OGA is expected to convert to a government-owned company, separating itself from the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, according to

UK Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: "We are determined to make the most of our North Sea resources to provide secure, reliable energy for hardworking families and businesses and reduce our reliance on volatile foreign imports.

"The 28th offshore licensing round comes after the government announced a major package of support in March to encourage £4bn of additional investment in the North Sea, which will prolong the life of this vital industry."

Image: New licences have been given to explore UK Continental Shelf in the North Sea. Photo: courtesy of user:Southpark.