NSTA Awards 31 More Licenses in Latest North Sea Oil and Gas Round

© currahee_shutter / Adobe Stock
© currahee_shutter / Adobe Stock

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) has offered further 31 exploration licenses in the latest phase of the U.K.'s 33rd oil and gas licensing round.

A total of 82 offers to 50 companies have now been made in the round which attracted 115 bids from 76 companies across 257 blocks and part-blocks.

The licenses offered in the round would be expected to add an estimated 600 mmboe up to 2060, or 545 by 2050.

The first tranche offered 27 licenses in October 2023, with the second offering 24 licenses in January 2024.

The 31 offers in the final tranche are made up of 29 new licenses and two merges.

Of the 29 new licenses, 23 are Initial Term Phase A or B, two will be Initial Term Phase C (firm wells), and the remaining four will go straight to Second Term, meaning they can theoretically go into production more quickly.

Phase A is a period for carrying out geotechnical studies and geophysical data reprocessing; Phase B is a period for undertaking seismic surveys and acquiring other geophysical data; and Phase C is for drilling. 

The awarded licenses span Southern North Sea, Central North Sea and East Irish Sea.

The companies that were awarded the most blocks include Finder Energy and Hartshead Resources, with Horizon Energy Partners, Perenco UK, INEOS UK SNS, Neptune Energy and ONE-Dyas securing significant portion as well.

Other winners include Bridge Petroleum, DCarbonX, Deltic Energy, Neo Energy, Orcardian Energy, Petrogas.

Following discussions with partners in The Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland, NSTA also introduced a new clause for overlapping oil and gas licenses and wind leases for the first time. 

"This will be the main commercial mechanism for these licenses to resolve spatial overlaps and to support co-existence of these important industries," NSTA said.

Commenting on the introduction of the clause, Dan McGrail, RenewableUK's Chief Executive, said: “Whilst we welcome the efforts of the NSTA, the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland to work together on reforming the rules governing oil and gas co-location with offshore wind farms, we need much greater prioritization of renewables over oil and gas in spatial planning. Offshore wind is going to be the backbone of our future system, not fossil fuels.

“Prioritizing offshore wind over oil and gas isn’t just the right choice for the planet, but given renewables are the lowest cost means of generating power, we should be doing this for billpayers.”

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