The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has awarded the next round of oil and gas exploration licences with the industry still keen to develop the UK’s North Sea resources.
In this 26th licensing round, a total of 144 licences have been granted for the extraction of oil and gas from UK waters – covering 268 blocks (just under the 303 blocks that were awarded in the previous round).
Charles Hendry, the UK’s Energy Minister remarked:
“It’s encouraging to see the healthy level of interest there is from industry to make the most of the UK’s still substantial resources of oil and gas…
… Whilst in the long-term, we want to decarbonise our energy system, we have moved swiftly to offer these licences as we must realise the optimum value from the UK’s energy resources and ensure secure energy supplies…
… We remain absolutely vigilant and determined to ensure that exploration in our waters is done safely and with minimal impact to the environment”
In addition, the DECC may well approve a further 99 blocks (made up of 45 licences) subject to further and more detailed assessments of the likely effects of oil and gas activities around certain protected nature conservation areas.
The department is expected to make its decision upon receiving the results of the environmental assessments.