Acreage offered was designed to promote activity in under-explored areas of the UK continental shelf (UKCS). It was the first UK round in two decades to focus on frontier areas, OGA added.
Proposed work programs include firm well commitments.
Among the areas on offer were the East Shetland Platform and the Rockall Trough and Mid-North Sea High areas, both the focus of last year’s UK government-funded seismic acquisition program.
OGA subsequently made available a geophysical dataset to allow interested companies to identify and target a range of opportunities.
Andy Samuel, chief executive, said: “Despite the difficult climate, industry has responded strongly to our offer, using analysis and insights to identify new prospects and submit high quality applications on blocks that did not attract interest in recent licensing rounds. This confirms the high remaining potential in the UKCS’ frontier areas.
“Long standing investors continue to seek new acreage and we also welcome the arrival of new entrants. This is encouraging and supports the OGA and MER UK Exploration Board’s joint approach to revitalize exploration.
“The UK government-funded seismic programs and the OGA’s ‘Innovate Licence’ were developed through an industry task group and offer a flexible, pragmatic, and focused approach to licensing.”
Britain’s upcoming 30th Offshore Licensing Round will cover mature areas of the UKCS, and will also offer some blocks not available since the 3rd Licensing Round.
Results from another government-funded seismic acquisition program, recently completed offshore South West Britain and the East Shetland Platform, will provide data for future frontier licensing.
It involved acquiring more than 13,500 km (8,388 mi) of new seismic data and reprocessing of roughly 20,000 km (12,427 mi) of legacy seismic data. Results should be released to the industry during 2Q/3Q 2017.