The 29th Offshore Licensing Round, with more than 1,200 blocks on offer to support the OGA’s objective of maximising economic recovery (MER) (illustration: OGA)
The UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has launched the 29th Offshore Licensing Round with more than 1,200 blocks on offer to support the OGA’s objective of maximising economic recovery (MER) from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).
Companies can now apply for new licenses to drill for offshore oil and gas in a number of frontier areas of the UKCS, some of which were part of last year’s UK Government funded seismic campaign. The £20 million programme targeted under explored areas of the UKCS and significantly improved the previously sparse data coverage in the Rockall Trough and Mid-North Sea High regions. The data packages were downloaded more than 3,000 times after being made freely available to industry in April 2016 as part of the OGA’s wider plan to revitalise exploration.
The 29th Round marks the launch of the “Innovate Licence” concept. This offers a flexible and pragmatic approach to licensing which was developed by an industry task group set up by the MER UK Exploration Board. The new approach will allow licensees to work with OGA to design an optimal work programme. This enables more appropriate phasing of activity, rental fees and competency tests and implements a stage-gate process for better monitoring of progress than the previous licensing regime.
This latest round follows on from the successful 28th Round in 2015, one of the largest licensing rounds since offshore licensing began in 1964. Companies have until 14:00 on 26th October 2016 to apply for blocks on offer in the 29th Round.
Andy Samuel, Chief Executive of the OGA, says, “Since the OGA was established, we have worked very closely with government and industry with the aim of revitalising exploration. We recognise that market conditions are currently very difficult but nevertheless we have a shared goal of making the basin as attractive as possible for exploration. We’ve listened to industry feedback and have introduced more flexibility in the licensing regime and opened up potential new areas for licensing.”
“The GBP 20 million Government-funded seismic acquisition programme sparked interest in the Rockall Trough and Mid-North Sea High areas and this licensing round now makes these under-explored frontiers available. The combination of, for the first time, freely available seismic data and the flexible ‘Innovate Licence’ is a compelling package and the result of many months of collaboration between the OGA and industry to stimulate further drilling and maximise economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas resources,” continues Samuel.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, says, “I welcome these new opportunities for our important oil and gas industry and the associated supply chain. The £20m seismic campaign funded by this government has highlighted more of the opportunities that are still out there in the UK continental shelf. We now look forward to companies taking advantage of these newly discovered sites and all the potential that they offer.”