Esso will have 75% equity in the venture and will be the operator. Shell will hold the remaining 25%.
The acreage is in an under-explored area of the North Sea known as the Mid North Sea High, approximately 90 miles to the east of Newcastle. The awarded area is located between the larger producing areas of the Southern Gas Basin and the Central North Sea.
Esso and Shell have committed to drill one exploration well in the initial four-year term of the license. Geological and geophysical studies will be conducted in support of the well.
Commenting on the award, Robert Olsen, Chairman, ExxonMobil International Limited (EMIL), said, "This award allows us to extend our long history of exploring the U.K. Continental Shelf. While the area carries significant risk and high uncertainty, it also has a significant upside potential that ExxonMobil and Shell want to further evaluate and explore. The Mid North Sea High is one of a number of under-explored plays that ExxonMobil is pursuing in the North Sea region and follows the 2004 award of 11 blocks in the Norwegian Danish Basin."
Russ Bellis, EMIL Exploration Director, said, "This award is the result of years of hard work based on applying our global experience to the North Sea geology. The North Sea region remains an excellent area to evaluate new plays and the Mid North Sea High fits well with our global exploration strategy."
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