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UK: Licensing round begins for new North Sea oil and gas projects

UK: Licensing round begins for new North Sea oil and gas projects
UK: Licensing round begins for new North Sea oil and gas projects

A new licensing round for the exploration and development of oil and gas in the North Sea has reportedly been launched, enabling new projects to improve domestic supplies.

North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the energy watchdog is beginning to accept applications for licenses, which will allow firms to develop 898 part-blocks and blocks in the North Sea and the organization may award more than 100 licenses. One can apply till 2 pm, Thursday, 12th January 2023.

Domestic fossil fuel generation is an important aspect of the UK government’s bid for energy independence, highlighted in its 2022 supply strategy. As per records, this will the 33rd licensing round.

To encourage quick production, the NSTA has identified four areas in the Southern North Sea, which have proven hydrocarbons, and some infrastructure can be developed quickly and will be prioritized during the allotment of licenses.

The applicants are motivated to apply for these areas to enable instant production, and the first license should be awarded by the second quarter of 2023.

As per NSTA analysis, it takes around 5 years between the discovery and production of oil and gas.

Currently, oil and gas contribute about 3/4th of the UK’s domestic energy requirements and this licensing round is the latest attempt by the UK government to secure more energy as Offshore Energies the UK, the industry body recently warned about decreasing supplies at the currently established sites and the urgent requirement to develop new sites.

The NSTA also announced the licensing of Rough gas storage facility and encouraged firms to consider opening the closed wells. It claims that as agreed during the North Sea Transition Deal of 2021, the sector is set to fulfil a reduction target of 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2027. The industry is also searching for opportunities in areas like hydrogen development and carbon storage.

The chief executive of NSTA, Dr. Andy Samuel stated that the industry is investing in sustainable solutions and the results are satisfactory, as their first carbon storage round had 26 applications from 19 companies.

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