The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has launched the 31st Offshore Licensing Round, offering blocks in frontier areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), supported by government-funded data to stimulate interest in these under-explored basins and assist companies in their activities.

A total of 1766 blocks (370,000 km2) of open acreage is now available across the West of Scotland, the East Shetland Platform, the Mid North Sea High, South West Britain and parts of the English Channel, covered by over 80,000 km of high-quality, publicly-available seismic data generated through the 2015 and 2016 Government seismic programmes. The new seismic data, together with supporting datasets and reports, were released in advance of the round.

This suite of exploration data packs and reports includes, regional geological maps for the Northern North Sea, East Shetland Platform and SW Approaches; final and interim products from the Frontier Basins Research programme; joined digital well logs; and a report on the hydrocarbon potential of the Liassic. Data and reports can be downloaded from the OGA Data Centre.

As a result of high levels of industry interest following the 30th Round, the OGA is also offering companies the opportunity to propose additional blocks in more mature areas, for possible inclusion where applicants intend to commit to a substantial firm work programme. Submissions should be made to the OGA in writing before 18 July 2018, with the OGA reserving the right to instead offer nominated blocks in a subsequent licence offering.

***Submissions should be made to the OGA in writing before 18 July 2018***

Dr Andy Samuel, Chief Executive of the OGA, said the licensing strategy is an important step in unlocking new opportunities and maximising value from our resources: “Following hot on the heels of the strong industry response to the 30th Round, the OGA is opening up large areas of acreage to industry that offer the opportunity for high-impact exploration growth. The array of measures put in place by the OGA over the last two years, coupled with the UK’s highly attractive fiscal regime and openly-accessible data have laid the foundation for the ongoing revival in exploration activity across all areas of the UK Continental Shelf.”

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry, said: “Through our ambitious modern Industrial Strategy, we recognise the importance of information and insight to help drive business performance. That’s why we provided £40 million in the 2015 and 2016 Budgets for seismic surveys in under-explored frontier areas of the UK Continental Shelf, resulting in new data and new opportunities in this latest round of licensing.”

Companies have until 14:00 on 7th November 2018 to apply for blocks on offer in the 31st Round. Decisions are expected to be made as early as possible in the first half of 2019. The launch of this round follows the recent highly-successful 30th Offshore Licensing Round which awarded 123 licences for 229 blocks or part blocks to 61 companies in mature areas of the UKCS during May 2018.

The next round, the 32nd Offshore Licensing Round is planned to open next summer 2019, and will focus on mature areas of the UKCS.

Notes to editors:

  • The Round closes for applications at 14:00 GMT on the 7th November 2018
  • 1766 blocks are on offer in all. See the UKCS 31st Offshore Licensing Round map.
  • A full list of the blocks on offer can be viewed on the OGA licensing rounds webpage.
  • Block nominations should be made in writing to before 16:00 BST on Wednesday 18th July 2018 specifying the blocks of interest, the rationale for requiring access in this round, work already performed, data available for analysis and an indication of the nature and timing of the intended firm work programme. The OGA expects work programmes in mature areas to be substantial (e.g. firm wells) with a commitment to rapid execution of operational activities. The OGA makes no guarantee that nominated blocks will be added to the 31st Round offering, and reserves the right to make nominated blocks available through subsequent licence rounds and out-of-round procedures.
  • Further details of the exploration datapacks and reports are available on the OGA Open Data Centre.
  • Government-Funded Seismic and Well Data is available to download or order on media via CDA’s UK Oil and Gas Data page
  • Further details on the 2016 Government Funded Seismic data, released on 27th November 2017.
  • Relinquishment reports provided by previous licensees are also available through the OGA's interactive maps webpage
  • Further information on OGA Licensing Rounds, including a five-year plan of licence rounds and application guidance. 
  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (formerly Department of Energy and Climate Change), Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning (OPRED) Unit undertook a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to help inform offshore energy licensing and leasing decisions by considering the environmental implications of the plan / programme. The SEA was subject to an 8-week public consultation during March and April 2016. On 13th July 2016 OPRED published the Post Consultation Report and Post Adoption Statement concluding the SEA process.
  • The SEA concluded that there are no overriding environmental considerations to prevent the achievement of the plan / programme. However, the SEA made a number of recommendations regarding precautions, with the area offered restricted spatially through the exclusion of certain areas together with a number of mitigation measures to prevent, reduce and offset significant adverse impacts on the environment and other users of the sea. The excluded areas will not be part of the offer.
  • OPRED will carry out a screening exercise in accordance with the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora) to determine whether the activities proposed to be carried out are likely to have a significant effect on the management of a Special Area of Conservation Area (SAC) or Special Protection Area (SPA). Where the screening exercise determines that there is a potential for likely significant impact, OPRED will undertake an Appropriate Assessment to determine whether the activities could have any adverse effects on the integrity of such SACs or SPAs. Licences will only be awarded where it has been ascertained that there will be no adverse effect on the integrity of such SACs and SPAs.
  • Executive (HSE) will also consider whether applicants meet the safety and environmental requirements of the Offshore Safety Directive, and will make recommendations accordingly for or against the award of each licence.
  • Licences that are awarded in the round may contain conditions to protect environmental sensitivities, and the interests of other sea users. In addition, activities carried out under the licences will be subject to a range of legislation which is designed to protect the marine environment and other users of the sea, including regulations which apply the Environmental Impact Assessment and Habitats Directives in relation to offshore oil and gas activities.

For more information, please contact Tracey Miller, Communications Manager at the OGA.

Tel: +44 (0) 300 020 1072 Email: or