The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) is offering businesses 1,200 blocks for offshore drilling.
It has opened its 29th Offshore Licensing Round for oil and gas drilling under a £20 million programme targeted at underexplored areas of the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).
The move follows OGA’s aim to support the maximisation of economic recovery from the UKCS.
The licensing round marks the launch of the ‘Innovate License’ concept, which allows firms to work with OGA to design a work programme enabling an appropriate phasing of activity, rental fees and competency tests.
It also allows a better monitoring of progress than the previous licensing regime, according to the OGA.
The latest round follows the previous one in 2015 and was one of the largest licensing rounds in the country since 1964.
Businesses have until the 26th October to apply for the blocks.
Andy Samuel, Chief Executive at OGA said: “Since the OGA was established, we have worked very closely with government and industry with the aim of revitalising exploration. We recognise that market conditions are currently very difficult but nevertheless we have a shared goal of making the basin as attractive as possible for exploration. We’ve listened to industry feedback and have introduced more flexibility in the licensing regime and opened up potential new areas for licensing.
“The combination of, for the first time, freely available seismic data and the flexible ‘Innovate Licence’ is a compelling package and the result of many months of collaboration between the OGA and industry to stimulate further drilling and maximise economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas resources.”