UKCS attracts frontier acreage bids in 29th licensing round

The UK Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) has attracted 29 applications covering 113 blocks in 29th Frontier Licensing Round, which is the first in 2 decades to focus on underexplored, frontier areas of the UK Continental Shelf.

Applications were received from 24 companies and some of the proposed work programs include firm well commitments, OGA said. Areas on offer included the East Shetland Platform and the Rockall Trough and Mid-North Sea High areas that were the focus of the £20-million government-funded seismic acquisition program in 2015, which acquired 8,896 km of full-fold seismic in the Rockall Trough area and 10,849 km of full-fold seismic in the Mid-North High area (OGJ Online, July 28, 2016).

“Despite the difficult climate, industry has responded strongly to our offer,” said Andy Samuel, OGA chief executive. He added that many of the applications were “high quality” and on blocks that had not attracted interest in recent licensing rounds, which could possibly confirm the high potential in the UKCS’s frontier areas.

The 29th Offshore Licensing Round was launched on July 27 and closed for applications on Oct. 26. OGA said it is now commencing technical evaluation of the submissions and expects to award licenses as early as possible in 2017.

The UK 30th Offshore Licensing Round will cover mature areas of the shelf, OGA said, adding that some blocks on offer have not been available since the country’s 3rd Licensing Round.

The UK government funded an additional 3D seismic acquisition in 2016 that focused on South West Britain and the East Shetland Platform. More than 13,500 km of new seismic data plus 20,000 km of reprocessed legacy seismic data is scheduled to be released to industry in Q2 and Q3 2017.

Contact Tayvis Dunnahoe at

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