Shell, Equinor, bp, Total and NEO are among the 17 separate companies which have been offered a total of 24 licences in the second tranche of the 33rd oil and gas licensing round.
The 33rd Licensing Round opened in October 2022 with more than 900 Blocks being made available. The application window closed in January 2023 with 115 bids coming in from 76 companies, demonstrating the ongoing appetite within industry to explore the UK Continental Shelf.
The round is a key part of the North Sea Transition Authority’s (NSTA) drive to support the oil and gas industry, which currently contributes around three quarters of domestic energy needs and, according to official forecasts, will continue to do so even as demand is reduced.
In addition to providing skilled jobs and supporting the economy, domestic energy supply can play an important role in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and allows the UK to continue to decarbonise domestic production.
Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero Graham Stuart said:
“We will continue to need oil and gas over the coming decades, so it is common sense to make the most of our own resources – with domestically produced gas almost four times cleaner than importing Liquefied Natural Gas from abroad.
“These new licences will strengthen our energy security now and into the future, while also helping boost our economy, by backing an industry that supports 200,000 jobs and is worth £16 billion each year.”