Hutton Calls for 'Record-Breaking' Offshore UK Licensing Round

A record-breaking 2,297 blocks or part blocks in UK waters are on offer for exploration in the 25th Offshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round announced today by Secretary of State for Energy John Hutton.

Additionally demonstrating the success of the Government and industry's 'Fallow Initiative' to stimulate activity in the North Sea, 72 blocks that were classified as "fallow" in 2007 have either been fully or partly relinquished in time to be on offer in this round.

John Hutton said, "This record-breaking 25th Round includes areas of the Continental Shelf not previously explored, and demonstrates the Government's on-going commitment to maximising the UK's own energy resources.

"The UK's oil and gas industry provides three quarters of our energy needs and 400,000 jobs which is why we will continue to support further exploration to fully exploit our domestic supplies.

"We have been careful to avoid harming dolphins and other sea life that thrive in these areas in the past and will continue to do so."

In deciding which areas to offer for licensing, BERR conducted a thorough Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of UK waters.

The SEA concluded that licensing may proceed subject to a number of recommendations. It recommended that some areas should be withheld from licensing for the moment due to lack of information. The recommendations have been accepted.

Before any license awards are made an environmental assessment under the Habitats Directive will be carried out.