The UK’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) is inviting applications for exploration in large areas of the North Sea and west of Shetland.

The 32nd offshore licensing round is offering 768 blocks or part-blocks across the main producing areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). Blocks on offer are situated in the central North Sea, northern North Sea, southern North Sea and the west of Shetlands.

The authority has also provided access to a massive data bank from past drilling of over 2,700 wells, seismic surveys of the seabed and pipelines. Companies also have the opportunity to propose further blocks in adjacent areas, for potential inclusion where applicants plan to carry out a substantial firm work programme.

The closing date for applications is 12 November, with decisions anticipated to be taken in the second quarter of 2020.

Released data includes deliverables from the first year of the UKCS Petroleum Systems Project, a UKCS satellite seeps database, digital well logs for more than 2,000 wells, a UKCS structural and tectonic elements database, and the UK library of apatite fission track reports. It also includes UKCS gravity inversion products, rock physics calibration study, catalogue of opportunities in unlicensed acreage from relinquishment reports and the SNS Megasurvey.

The UK Government is providing £5m of funding for the exploration data packs to help stimulate exploration and new ventures activities.

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OGA principal regional geologist Jo Bagguley said: “This latest release of carefully targeted, value-adding data demonstrates the OGA’s continued commitment to supporting industry in its efforts to revitalise exploration.

“We’re particularly excited about the geochemical database and the release of the SNS Megasurvey and look forward to seeing these, and the other released data packs, being used to good effect to support both 32nd Licensing Round applications and ongoing exploration activity in the basin.”

In June 2019, the OGA offered for award 37 licence areas over 141 blocks or part-blocks to 30 companies in the 31st offshore licensing round.