Licences to drill for oil and gas off the coast of England were dished out to 60 companies last week.
Swathes of the North Sea, the English Channel, the North Channel and Morecambe Bay and the West of Shetlands and the Hebrides were included in the Government’s 28th Offshore Licensing Round.
The mixture of firms included British, US and Norwegian, ranging from oil giants BP and Shell, Centrica and BG to France’s GDF SUEZ and TOTAL, plus Statoil.
Government said the round is “on track to be one of biggest rounds ever in five decades”.
Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said: “Industry are scrambling over themselves invest in the UK and explore for energy.”
There were 134 licences covering 252 blocks. Another set of 94 blocks which are close to, or in, certain Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) will be divvied up in future. As outlined by EU rules in the Habitats Directive, environmental assessments must be done before any offer is made.
Boss of new Oil and Gas Authority revealed
The head of a new group meant to catalyse more investment in the North Sea was revealed as Andy Samuel, who is currently Managing Director of BG Group’s Exploration and Production in Europe.
As chief executive of the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) which will set up shop from April 2015, he is tasked with bringing in measures of the government-commissioned Wood Review. This laid out how to boost oil pumped from the North Sea up by 3-4 million barrels by 2020.
Andy Samuel said: “I know first-hand the challenges industry currently faces and am confident that implementing the vision set out in the Wood Review will create a strong future for the UK’s oil and gas industry.”