The latest North Sea licensing round for oil and gas drilling has broken all previous records for the number of applications received by the Government.
A total of 224 applications have been submitted for the 27th Licensing Round covering 418 blocks of the UK Continental Shelf. It is the largest number since offshore licensing began in 1964 and is 37 more than the previous high total received in the last licensing round.
Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, said:
“There remains an extraordinary level of interest in North Sea oil and gas and it is tremendous news for industry and for the UK economy.
The 27th Round was launched in February 2012 and closed for applications on the 1st May.
“We have been working extremely hard with the oil and gas industry to ensure the UK remains an attractive place to invest. The recent Budget was an important step to create a fiscal environment for North Sea development to flourish – providing energy security and jobs.” said Hendry.
Hendry continues: “Now our task is to ensure this considerable level of interest continues and that we make the most of this valuable, British resource.”
The UK’s oil and gas sector still provides almost half of the country’s energy and is by far the largest single industrial UK investor. Directly and indirectly it supports around 450,000 jobs in the UK.
DECC issues licences through competitive licensing rounds. Unlike auctions, for example, licensing rounds do not divert significant amount of money away from exploration work and they give a much better expectation that a licence will be awarded to the bid that promises to optimise exploitation of the UK’s petroleum resources.
Any licences that are awarded in the round will contain conditions to protect environmental interests, and the interests of other sea users. In addition, activities carried out under the licences will be subject to a range of legislation which is designed to protect the marine environment, including regulations which apply the Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats Directives to offshore oil and gas activities.
Onshore and offshore licensing rounds generally take place every year.
Offshore Energy Today Staff, May 23, 2012