The licensing round for oil and gas was launched in October (Jane Barlow/PA)
17 January 2023

More than 100 bids received in latest round of offshore oil and gas licensing

17 January 2023

More than 100 applications have been received in the UK’s 33rd round of offshore oil and gas licensing.

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), which regulates the sector, said a total of 115 bids have been received from 76 companies, covering 258 “blocks” of the sea.

The licensing round for exploration and potential development opened in October.

The NSTA says the bids will now be studied and those that go ahead could begin production in as little as 18 months.

Several different consents are needed after licences are granted but before production can begin, including ensuring it is in line with climate commitments.

While offshore licensing is reserved to Westminster, last week the Scottish Government published its draft energy strategy which discussed its policy on the North Sea.

Ministers in Edinburgh are consulting on whether to adopt a position of a presumption against new oil and gas drilling.

Dr Nick Richardson, the NSTA’s head of exploration, said: “We have seen a strong response from industry to the (licensing) round, which has exceeded application levels compared to previous rounds.

“We will now be working hard to analyse the applications with a view to awarding the first licences from the second quarter of 2023.”

UK Climate Minister Graham Stuart said: “Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has led to volatile global energy markets.

“It’s fantastic to see such interest from industry in this round, with the awarded licences set to play an important role in boosting domestic energy production and securing the UK’s long-term energy security of supply.”

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