UK Launches Massive Oil & Gas Licensing Round

The UK on Friday launched its first oil and gas licensing round since 2019, aiming to issue more than 100 licenses to boost domestic oil and gas production and reduce reliance on foreign fossil fuel sources.

The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the regulator responsible for processing and issuing exploration and production licenses, said Friday that it is “inviting applications for licenses to explore and potential develop 898 blocks and sub-blocks in the North Sea that lead could count on more than 100 issued licenses.”

According to the Authority and the UK Government, Britain’s energy security will be boosted by the start of the 33rd yearapprox licensing round.

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The licensing round is part of the UK’s new government’s push to boost domestic production, which included formally lifting the moratorium on shale gas exploration in England last month.

Authorities will be looking for operators to start production as soon as possible after licensing and to encourage this NSTA has identified four priority cluster areas in the southern North Sea. These areas have known oil and gas reserves, are close to infrastructure and have the potential for rapid development. The agency will seek to license blocks in these areas before others.

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The application deadline is Jan. 12, 2023, and the first licenses are expected to be issued in the second quarter of 2023, the NSTA said.

“Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine means that it is now more important than ever to make the most of sovereign energy resources and strengthen our energy security now and in the future,” said Economy and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, commenting on the launch of the licensing round .

“To ensure our energy independence, we need to use the full potential of our North Sea assets to boost domestic production – recognizing that UK production of gas has a lower carbon footprint than importing it from abroad,” added Rees -Mogg added.

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Environmental campaigners have criticized the new round of licensing, with Greenpeace UK energy transition campaigner Philip Evans saying: “This government’s energy policy benefits the fossil fuel companies and nobody else.”

“Neither this winter nor any winter soon, new oil and gas licenses will not reduce energy bills for families in need or provide energy security in the medium term,” Evans said, as reported by the BBC.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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