The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has attracted 29 applications covering 113 blocks in the latest offshore licensing round which targeted under-explored areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).

The 29th Frontier Licensing Round is the first licensing round in two decades to focus on frontier areas. Applications were received from 24 companies ranging from multinationals to new country entrants. Some of the proposed work programmes include firm well commitments.

Frontier areas on offer included the East Shetland Platform and the Rockall Trough and Mid-North Sea High areas which were the focus of the 2015 UK Government funded seismic acquisition programme. The OGA subsequently provided an openly available, geophysical dataset allowing companies to identify and target a range of opportunities. 

Andy Samuel, Chief Executive of the OGA, said: “Despite the difficult climate, industry has responded strongly to our offer, using analysis and insights to identify new prospects and submit high quality applications on blocks that did not attract interest in recent licensing rounds. This confirms the high remaining potential in the UKCS’ frontier areas.

“Long standing investors continue to seek new acreage and we also welcome the arrival of new entrants. This is encouraging and supports the OGA and MER UK Exploration Board’s joint approach to revitalise exploration. The UK Government funded seismic programmes and the OGA’s ‘Innovate Licence’ were developed through an industry task group and offer a flexible, pragmatic and focused approach to licensing.

“Licences awarded will provide continued opportunities for our world-class service sector to develop technology and expertise, and ultimately, should provide new energy supplies to the UK.”

The upcoming 30th Offshore Licensing Round will cover mature areas of the UKCS, and will offer significant opportunities, including some blocks not available since the 3rd Licensing Round.

The recently completed 2016 UK Government funded seismic acquisition programme of South West Britain and the East Shetland Platform will inform future frontier licensing. More than 13,500 km of new seismic data plus approximately 20,000 km of reprocessed legacy seismic data is scheduled to be released to industry in Q2/Q3 2017.

Download PDF version of the 29th Round Offer map


For more information please contact:

Leona Minellas
Communications Manager
Oil & Gas Authority
Tel: +44 (0) 300 020 1072

Notes to editors:

  • The 29th Offshore Licensing Round was launched on 27 July 2016 and closed for applications on the 26 October 2016. The OGA will now commence technical evaluation of the submissions, and will work towards making awards as early as possible in 2017.
  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), (formerly Department of Energy and Climate Change), Oil & Gas Environment and Decommissioning (OGED) Unit 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 under the prospective licences are likely to have a significant effect on the management of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protection Area (SPA). Where the screening exercise determines that a significant impact is likely, BEIS OGED 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 that there will be no adverse effect on the integrity of such SACs and SPAs. BEIS OGED and HSE will also consider 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.
  • Further information on the 29th Oil and Gas Offshore Licensing round
  • On 1 October 2016, the OGA became an independent government company. As a result, decisions previously held by ministers, including exploration and production decisions and approvals, are now held by the OGA Chief Executive, Andy Samuel
  • The 2015 UK Government funded seismic acquisition programme acquired 8,896km of full-fold seismic in the Rockall Trough area, 10,849km of full-fold seismic acquired in the Mid-North Sea High which was published under the Open Government Licence on 31 March 2016
  • Data are available to download via Common Data Access (CDA)
  • Common Data Access (CDA) is an operating subsidiary of Oil & Gas UK, set up in 1995 to provide cost-effective data management services to its members and to the UK oil industry in general.
  • The 2016 seismic acquisition programme was announced by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, during a visit to Aberdeen in January as part of a wider package of measures to support the oil and gas sector
  • Contracts were awarded to WesternGeco and PGS for the South West Britain and East Shetland Platform geophysical surveys respectively. The acquisition programme began in summer 2016 and finished in October 2016.