DTI Announce 24th Licensing Round Awards
Following a bumper year for oil and gas discoveries in the North Sea, Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State of Trade & Industry, has unveiled continuing record numbers of oil and gas licences.
Offers of 150 oil and gas exploration and production licences will be issued to 104 companies covering 246 blocks - continuing the record numbers of licences issued last year.
In announcing the awards, Alistair Darling said:
"This award matches last year's record breaking result and shows that by having a flexible and responsive licensing regime we are continuing to maximise the potential of the North Sea. There are potentially more than 20 billion barrels of oil and gas still available to be produced, which is good news for industry, our economy and energy supply."
"The oil and gas sector is one of the UK's most important industries and our role in awarding these licenses is to balance the continued development of the North Sea whilst respecting and minimising the impact on our environment. In making the decision to separate four of the blocks from this round for further assessment, we can continue to capitalise on this record investment in the North Sea whilst allowing us to properly consider the important issues surrounding these blocks."
At the same time, latest figures from government show 2006 was a significant year for discovering oil and gas - the highest level since 2001. It is estimated that the equivalent of at least half a billion barrels have been discovered in 2006 and around 40% of exploration wells have found potentially commercial oil and gas accumulations.
Adding further to the good news, a significant number of the innovative "Promote Licences" issued in the 22nd Oil and Gas Licensing Round will continue into their third and fourth years. 23 such Licences from the 22nd Round awards (out of 58 originally issued) will continue, to include commitments of 13 firm wells and 10 new seismic and contingent wells.
The "fallow" initiative continues to play a key role in forcing unworked blocks back into play: 52 of these are being taken up by new owners. Since 2002, a total of 75 wells have been drilled on fallow blocks or discoveries.
Exploration Licence Definitions