The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has awarded 25 licenses for 111 blocks, or part blocks, to 17 companies in the 29th Offshore Licensing Award, to enable further exploration and production across frontier areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

The 29th Licensing Round was the first licensing round in two decades to focus solely on frontier, underexplored areas of the Rockall Basin, Mid-North Sea High, and part of the East Shetland Platform. It attracted applications from 24 companies for 113 blocks when it closed in October 2016.

“We are particularly pleased to see firm well commitments, the targeting of new and under-explored plays, and first-time entrants to the basin, alongside a number of established companies, which will help stimulate further activity and value creation,” Andy Samuel, OGA chief executive, said in an organization statement.

“While exploration activity has undoubtedly suffered as a result of the difficult market conditions, we are now seeing highly encouraging success rates and finding costs on the UKCS. This is testament to the value of a robust and focused exploration strategy with commitment from industry, government and the OGA,” he added.

The upcoming 30th Offshore Licensing Round will focus on mature areas and is expected to be the most significant offshore round in recent decades, Samuel said. 

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