UK confirms new North Sea oil and gas license round

In a move to strengthen energy security, the UK government has confirmed its support for a new oil and gas licensing round, expected to be launched by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) in early October.

“In light of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponisation of energy, the government is taking concrete steps to increase home-grown sources of energy, reduce the UK’s reliance of foreign imports, and explore all possible options to boost domestic energy security,” said the UK government in a statement.

“To do so, it is appropriate to pursue all means for increasing UK oil and gas production, including through new oil and gas licences and shale gas extraction.”

The government also lifted the moratorium on shale gas production in England.

The new licensing round is expected to lead to over 100 new licences.

Under the new licensing round, the NSTA is expected to make a number of new blocks of the UK Continental Shelf available for applicants to bid for licences.

“These licences will enable developers to search for commercially viable oil and gas sources within the areas of their licences,” said the UK government.

“Developers will still need to seek regulatory approval for any activities conducted within their licensed area, such as drilling or construction of infrastructure.

“Increasing energy supplies with a new licensing round and lifting the moratorium on shale gas production will help boost the UK’s energy resilience, and help achieve the ambition to make the UK a net energy exporter by 2040.

“The government is today formally lifting the pause on shale gas extraction and will consider future applications for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent with the domestic and global need for gas in mind and where there is local support.

“Developers will need to have the necessary licences, permissions and consents in place before they can commence operations.”