The UK’s latest offshore licensing round has attracted 36 applications covering 164 blocks.

The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) announced Wednesday that the UK’s latest offshore licensing round has attracted 36 applications covering 164 blocks in frontier areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

Applications were received from 35 companies “ranging from multinationals to microbusinesses,” the OGA revealed.

The 31st licensing round, which closed on November 7, offered opportunities to acquire acreage across UKCS frontier areas, including the Atlantic Margin, East Shetland Platform, Mid North Sea High and the English Channel.

The OGA said it will now commence its technical evaluation of applications and revealed that it intends to offer awards to successful applicants “as early as possible during Q2 2019”.

“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 50 percent increase in the number of blocks applied for,” Nick Richardson, head of exploration and new ventures at the OGA, said in an organization statement.

“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,” he added.

“Whilst the UKCS offers a rich and attractive set of exploration and field development opportunities, the OGA continues to be concerned by low levels of drilling activity. We are encouraging industry to step up its efforts to explore for new resources, providing enhanced security of domestic supply in the future,” Richardson continued.

Oil & Gas UK’s Upstream Policy Director, Mike Tholen, said the strong interest in the UK’s 31st offshore licensing round “is encouraging news for the industry, highlighting a growing appetite and renewed interest for exploration on the UKCS”.

“The outcome of this licensing round promises to boost exploration efforts and support the aims of Vision 2035, which is to add another generation of productive life to the basin,” he added.

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