The UK North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) has awarded 27 oil and gas exploration licences in the North Sea to several companies.

Located in the central and northern North Sea, and west of Shetland, the licences have been awarded as part of the first batch of the country’s 33rd oil and gas licensing round.

The British oil and gas regulator said that these licences were initially awarded to allow operators to accelerate exploration and development of oil and gas resources.

In addition to these licences, an additional six blocks, which were ready to be offered, have been incorporated into five existing licences.

Companies that received the offers include Aker BP, BP, Equinor, Ithaca Energy, Shell and TotalEnergies.

Launched in October 2022, the licensing round offered a total of 931 blocks and part-blocks.

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By GlobalData

Subsequently, the NSTA received a total of 115 applications from 76 companies, covering 258 blocks and part-blocks.

UK Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said: “As recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee – we will continue to need oil and gas over the coming decades as we deliver net zero.

“It is common sense to reduce our reliance on foreign imports and use our own supply – it is better for our economy, the environment and our energy security.

“These new licences are a welcome boost for the UK industry, which already supports around 200,000 jobs and contributes £16bn ($19.43bn) to the economy each year – while advancing our transition to low-carbon technologies, on which our future prosperity depends.”

The NSTA said there are currently 284 oil and gas production fields in the UK North Sea. These fields have anticipated total production of approximately 5.25 billion barrels of oil equivalent through to 2050.