The UK’s Oil and Gas Authority (“OGA”) launched the 31st Offshore Licensing Round for the UKCS on 10 July 2018, seeking bids for licenses for blocks primarily in frontier areas, and with an offer to consider requests to make blocks in more mature areas available.

Blocks on Offer

A total area of 140,000 sq. miles is on offer in the 31st Round covering a total of 1,766 blocks. The blocks cover acreage across West of Scotland, the East Shetland Platform, the Mid North Sea High, South West Britain and parts of the English Channel; a full list of the blocks on offer can be viewed here.

OGA is particularly keen to encourage exploration in these frontier areas, which it considers to be under explored. To try to stimulate interest and encourage investment, OGA has already made available to industry 50,000 miles worth of seismic data generated by a £40 million UK Government investment across the 2015 and 2016 Budgets. This data was generated in recognition of the importance of information to business performance and OGA expects it will help to create new opportunities for companies in the frontier areas; the data is available here. In addition to the seismic data, a suite of exploration data packs and reports were also released in advance of the Round; these are available here.

Although this Round focusses on frontier areas, OGA is also offering companies the opportunity to request that blocks in more mature areas are made available. This opportunity comes following the high levels of demand following the 30th Round, which was deemed highly successful and awarded 123 licences for 229 blocks or part blocks to 61 companies in mature areas of the UKCS. The OGA will only consider applications for mature blocks in this Round if substantial firm work commitments are intended in respect of these blocks and OGA has indicated it may instead offer nominated blocks in a subsequent licence offering.

Timetable

The 31st Round will remain open until 2pm on 7 November 2018. Decisions on block awards are expected to be made and announced before the end of Q2 2019.

The 32nd Offshore Licensing Round is expected to take place in Summer 2019 with a focus on mature areas of the UKCS.