The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change has launched the country's 28th offshore licensing round.
Announcing the round Friday, Energy Minister Michael Fallon commented in a statement:
"There continues to be extremely high level of interest in North Sea oil and gas, which is unsurprising when there could be as many as 20 billion barrels of oil still buried deep within the seabed."
Industry body Oil & Gas UK welcomed the announcement. The organization's UK operations director, Oonagh Werngren, said in a statement:
"Exploration in the North Sea has been challenged in recent years in both the number of exploration wells being drilled and their success rates. Recent data from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) demonstrates that in 2011, the UK continental shelf (UKCS) experienced a 50-percent drop in the number of exploration wells drilled, a number which has so far yet to recover. Only 15 wells were drilled in 2013 and less than 100 million barrels of oil equivalent were discovered in the last two years. Explorers cite access to rigs and equity capital as being the major contributing factors.
"Today's announcement of the 28th offshore oil and gas licensing round will, we hope, encourage new applicants as well as established companies to explore the basin but industry needs to work collaboratively with HM Treasury and DECC in a tripartite arrangement as outlined by Sir Ian Wood's recommendations from his Interim Report. We believe this approach ultimately holds the key to the future success of the North Sea."
Sir Ian Wood's Interim Report, produced in late 2013, called for greater collaboration by industry players in key areas such as the development of regional hubs and the sharing of infrastructure.
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