The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has received 173 applications from oil industry bidders for approximately 370 blocks in its latest offshore oil and gas licensing round, which closed applications on 25 April.
The licensing process allows oil and gas companies to explore new areas with the aim of discovering and developing new oil and gas fields in the UK.
UK Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: "It’s 50 years since North Sea licensing began and there remains an extraordinary level of interest, which is excellent news for industry and for the UK economy.
"We have committed to implementing all of Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations to help maximise recovery of North Sea oil and gas, and the Chancellor is reviewing the tax regime.
"Making the most of Britain’s home grown energy is crucial to keep job and business opportunities, get the best deal for customers and reduce our reliance on foreign imports."
The UK’s oil and gas sector, the largest single industrial UK investor, directly and indirectly provides around 450,000 jobs and contributes to almost half of the country’s energy production.
To date, approximately 42 billion barrels of oil equivalent have been produced in the UK with a potential 20 billion remaining.