The UK government received a record number of applications for its latest licensing round for oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced Wednesday.
A total of 224 applications were submitted for the 27th Licensing Round, which covered 418 blocks of the UK Continental Shelf. This is the largest number since offshore licensing began in 1964 and is 37 more than the previous high total received in the last licensing round.
"There remains an extraordinary level of interest in North Sea oil and gas and it is tremendous news for industry and for the UK economy," said Charles Hendry, the UK's Minister of State for Energy, in a press statement.
“We have been working extremely hard with the oil and gas industry to ensure the UK remains an attractive place to invest. The recent Budget was an important step to create a fiscal environment for North Sea development to flourish – providing energy security and jobs."
In March this year, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne proposed a package of tax measures designed to result in tens of billions of pounds of additional investment to develop the UK's oil and gas reserves.
Commenting to Rigzone on Wednesday's announcement, Mike Tholen – the economics director of industry body Oil & Gas UK – suggested that the UK Treasury will need to stick to the plans outlined by Mr. Osborne's Budget.
"The record number of applications is very welcome news which reflects the vast opportunity for business that remains on the UK continental shelf," said Tholen.
"What is key, however, is that changes posed in the 2012 Budget are established later this year to the best effect so that this interest is converted into exploration, development and ultimately new production with all its positive economic benefits."
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