UK Holds 'Lucky 13' Onshore Licensing Round

The UK is opening its 13th licensing round for onshore oil and gas exploration. Significant interest is expected from companies looking to explore prospective hydrocarbon sites across Britain as the latest opportunity to bid for licenses begins.

The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) says this round comprises all previously unlicensed areas of the UK above the low water mark - the point of the tide that marks the boundary between the offshore sea area and the onshore (landward area) - covered by the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

In a written statement to the House of Commons energy minister Malcolm Wicks invited applications for Petroleum Exploration and Development Licenses (PEDL) for unlicensed blocks in central Scotland, south east and north east Wales, as well as regions in the north, west and south of England.

Commenting on the latest round Wicks said:

"We have seen increased interest in license applications for both off and onshore exploration in recent years. This is to be welcomed as oil and gas production remains central to the UK's security of energy supply."

It is hoped that the 13th round may prove particularly significant for Coal Bed Methane (CBM) production - an emerging technology that BERR is keen to promote further - as it offers a new source of gas production in the UK which has already proved a success in the United States.

Although Landward Licensing Rounds are not as significant as the Offshore Rounds there is nevertheless an active onshore sector with some very valuable fields in production and a real desire amongst the industry to find more.

Any offers will be for a 90 day period with applications being received in February 2008.

An Appropriate Assessment will be conducted before any license awards are made in accordance with the Habitats Directive.

The launch of the Licensing Rounds will be via the Official Journal of the European Union. The 12th Landward Licensing Round took place in 2004.

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