The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) has received 36 applications covering 164 blocks under the UK’s 31st offshore licensing round.
Around 35 companies have submitted the bids for exploration blocks in frontier areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), including the Atlantic Margin, East Shetland Platform, Mid North Sea High, and the English Channel, with an aggregate area exceeding 370,000km².
The bids will now be assessed by the OGA and the winners will receive acreage in these frontier areas.
The OGA expects to offer awards to successful bidders during the second quarter of next year.
OGA exploration and new ventures head Dr Nick Richardson noted that there is a 50% increase in the number of blocks applied for since 2016.
Richardson added: “The OGA has received applications on some blocks on the East Shetland Platform, which have never been previously licensed, underlining the positive impact of ongoing government-funded data initiatives.
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“The recent publication by the OGA of a comprehensive re-evaluation of the UKCS’s Yet-to-Find potential points towards an additional exploration resource base of 4.1 billion barrels of oil equivalent (Bboe) in prospects and leads and 11.2Bboe in plays, largely in frontier areas, with a bias towards gas-rich opportunities.”
“Whilst the UKCS offers a rich and attractive set of exploration and field development opportunities, the OGA continues to be concerned by low levels of drilling activity.”
He called on the industry to do more in terms of exploring for new resources to improve future domestic energy security.
The OGA also stated that it expects to launch the 31st Supplementary Round in the Greater Buchan Area in the first quarter of next year.
Applicants in the supplementary round will be awarded an opportunity to develop and explore in a prime area of the Outer Moray Firth.
The regulator has asked companies to pursue collaboration in an Area Plan approach to maximise value from the estimated resources between 150MMboe and 300MMboe within the area.