The Oil and Gas Authority has awarded 12 licences to 11 companies in its latest round of offerings.
The 2016 Supplementary Offshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round was offered in response to industry requests to explore and drill in areas outside of those available in previous rounds.
Locations varied across the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), from the Southern North Sea to East of Shetland.
The round offered blocks under flexible terms, enabling applicants to decide on a timeframe that will allow them to optimise the value of their projects.
Five of the awards allow for the development of new fields or the redevelopment of old fields to begin.
The remainder of the licences will see projects enter the exploration stage.
Andy Samuel, OGA Chief Executive, said: “We’re listening to industry and are pleased to make available a number of additional, nominated areas.
“The strong interest in this round bodes well for the forthcoming 30th round, demonstrating the renewed attractiveness of the UKCS and the opportunity for operators to rebuild their portfolios with a mixture of exploration, development and redevelopment activity.”
Around 30 new crude oil and natural gas projects are expected to start operating in the North Sea by 2020.