The UK’s 31st Licensing Round have closed with 35 companies submitting a total of 36 applications covering 164 blocks.
On offer was frontier exploration acreage on the Atlantic Margin, East Shetland Platform, Mid North Sea High, and English Channel, with an aggregate area of more than 370,000 sq km (142,858 sq mi).
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) will now assess the applications and intends to announce awards next spring.
Dr Nick Richardson, Head of Exploration and New Ventures at the OGA, said: “This is an encouraging set of applications, demonstrating that interest in UK offshore licensing opportunities has increased since the 29th frontier round held in 2016, with an almost 50percent increase in the number of blocks applied for.
“The OGA has received applications on some blocks on the East Shetland Platform which have never been previously licensed, underlining the positive impact of ongoing government-funded data initiatives.”
A recent OGA report estimated the UK’s undiscovered resources at 4.1 Bboe in prospects and leads and 11.2 Bboe in plays, largely in frontier areas, with a bias toward gas.
However, the authority remains concerned at the continuing low levels of drilling across the UK continental shelf.
In 1Q 2019, the OGA plans to launch the 31st Supplementary Round in the Greater Buchan Area in the Outer Moray Firth off northeast Scotland, inviting bids to develop and explore for a cluster of opportunities.
It will issue a package of supporting data and is encouraging companies to enter partnerships under an Area Plan approach to maximize value from the estimated 150-300 MMboe within this area. The next ‘mature area’ UK licensing round is due to open in mid-2019.