The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has launched the 32nd Offshore Licensing Round with 768 blocks or part-blocks on offer across the main producing areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). Acreage is on offer in the Central North Sea, Northern North Sea, Southern North Sea and the West of Shetlands.

As part of its continued commitment to improving access to quality data and insights, the OGA is making a significant volume of data available in support of the 32nd UK Offshore Licensing Round. The groundbreaking data packs have been carefully collated to assist industry in their efforts to stimulate exploration and encourage new opportunities within the mature areas of the UKCS.

Government forecasts show that oil and gas will remain an important part of our energy mix for the foreseeable future, therefore maximising economic recovery from the UKCS is vital to meet our energy demands and reduce reliance on imports.

The massive data release has involved collaboration with 11 companies, including operators and third-party specialists. It includes both UKCS-wide and more regionally-focused data packs and reports, including the deliverables from the first year of the government supported UKCS Petroleum Systems Project.

It is the largest publicly available geochemical database for the UKCS, representing over 90,000 geochemical samples from more than 2,700 wells. Other significant data sets include the open release of the Southern North Sea (SNS) Seismic Megasurvey which represents around 23,000 km2 of 3D post-stack seismic data; and a rock-physics study focused on the pre-Cretaceous prospectivity of the Central North Sea and East Shetland Basin.

“This latest release of carefully targeted, value-adding data demonstrates the OGA’s continued commitment to supporting industry in its efforts to revitalise exploration,” says Dr Jo Bagguley, Principal Regional Geologist at the OGA. “We’re particularly excited about the geochemical database and the release of the SNS Megasurvey and look forward to seeing these, and the other released data packs, being used to good effect to support both 32nd Licensing Round applications and ongoing exploration activity in the basin.

The data sets are being made available through the UK National Data Repository (NDR) and the OGA Website.

The 32nd Offshore Licensing Round is open for 120 days until the application closing date on 12th November 2019 (14:00 GMT). Decisions are expected to be made in the second quarter of 2020.

The OGA is also offering companies the opportunity to propose additional blocks in adjacent 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 16:00 GMT on 18th July 2019.

Companies may also be interested in the 5th Faroese Licensing Round, the timing of which has been aligned with the United Kingdom’s 32nd Licensing Round.

Notes to editors:

  • Released data includes deliverables from Year 1 of the UKCS Petroleum Systems Project, a UKCS satellite seeps database, digital well logs for over 2000 wells, a UKCS structural and tectonic elements database, UK library of apatite fission track reports, UKCS gravity inversion products, rock physics calibration study, catalogue of opportunities in unlicensed acreage from relinquishment reports and the SNS Megasurvey.
  • The exploration data packs have been supported through £5 million of Government funding to help stimulate exploration and new ventures activities. Please see links:Licensing and
  • The Round closes for applications at 14:00 GMT on Tuesday 12th November 2019.
  • 768 blocks are on offer in all. See the OGA Open Data round announcement page for a map and data downloads. See link:
  • A full list of the blocks on offer can be viewed on the OGA licensing rounds webpage. A number of open blocks are being withheld for either current or planned ‘Out of Round’ offers.
  • Block nominations should be made in writing to before 16:00 BST on Thursday 18th July 2019 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 32nd 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 National Data Repository, OGA Open Data Centre and OGA interactive maps . The SNS Megasurvey will also be available to view online for a trial period of 4 months via Osokey’s website.
  • Relinquishment reports provided by previous licensees are 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 is available here.
  • Applications for the United Kingdom’s 32nd Licensing Round and applications for the Faroe Islands’ 5th Licensing Round will be evaluated independently by each state’s relevant authorities in accordance with their own established processes and procedures.
  • 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 if the activities could have an adverse effect 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.
  • OPRED and the Health and Safety 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