Press release

North Sea still attractive for oil and gas industry

DECC’s latest offshore oil and gas licensing round has received a strong response with 173 applications from industry for around 370 blocks.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


DECC’s latest offshore oil and gas licensing round, which closed for applications on Friday 25 April, has received a strong response with 173 applications from industry for around 370 blocks.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said:

“It’s 50 years since North Sea licensing began and there remains an extraordinary level of interest which is excellent news for industry and for the UK economy.

“We have committed to implementing all of Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations to help maximise recovery of North Sea oil and gas, and the Chancellor is reviewing the tax regime.

“Making the most of Britain’s home grown energy is crucial to keep job and business opportunities, get the best deal for customers and reduce our reliance on foreign imports.”

The department will scrutinise applications over the coming months and aims to start awarding acreage in the autumn.

The UK’s oil and gas sector still provides almost half of the country’s energy and is by far the largest single industrial UK investor. Directly and indirectly it supports around 450,000 jobs in the UK.

Note for editors

  • The 28th Offshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round closed for applications on 25 April. DECC received 173 applications, with around 370 blocks or part-blocks applied for.
  • In the UK around 42 billion barrels of oil equivalent have been produced so far with potentially around 20 billion or so remaining. One of DECC’s key objectives is to maximise economic recovery of UK oil and gas resources. The licensing process plays a key part in this by allowing companies to appraise and explore new areas with the aim of discovering and developing new UK oil and gas fields.
  • This follows on from recent record years such as 2012 when DECC received applications for 418 blocks, and 2010 when 378 blocks were awarded – the highest numbers since licensing began in 1964.
  • Table showing number of applications in previous licensing rounds along with information on the geographical areas (blocks) offered in the 28th round
Published 6 May 2014