The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has commenced the 31st UK offshore licensing round for blocks located in frontier regions of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).
Intended to generate interest in under-explored basins, the initiative covers 1,766 blocks with a total of 370,000km2 across the West of Scotland, the Mid North Sea High, the East Shetland Platform, South West Britain and certain areas of the English Channel.
The offshore licensing round is supported by more than 80,000km of publicly available seismic data obtained during the 2015 and 2016 programmes carried out by the government.
In addition to the seismic data, the OGA made available supporting datasets and reports prior to the round.
OGA chief executive 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 the 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.”
While the 31st round focuses on frontier areas, the authority also provided the opportunity for companies to suggest additional blocks in more mature areas, for potential inclusion.
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 £40m in the 2015 and 2016 budgets for seismic surveys in under-explored frontier areas of the UKCS, resulting in new data and new opportunities in this latest round of licensing.”
The 32nd UK offshore licensing round is being planned for next year, with a focus on mature UKCS areas.