17 firms licensed for North Sea exploration work
Seventeen firms have been granted licences for activity in the North Sea to enable further exploration and production.
The Oil and Gas Authority's (OGA) 29th licensing round was the first in two decades to focus solely on under-explored areas of the Rockall Basin, Mid-North Sea High and part of the East Shetland Platform.
The licensing round attracted applications from 24 companies before it closed in October. Licences were granted after the UK Government carried out seismic work in the area.
The OGA provided information about the seabed which allowed companies to identify and target a range of opportunities.
Andy Samuel, OGA chief executive, said: "We are particularly pleased to see firm well commitments, the targeting of new and under-explored plays and first-time entrants to the basin, alongside a number of established companies, which will help stimulate further activity and value creation.
"While exploration activity has undoubtedly suffered as a result of the difficult market conditions, we are now seeing highly encouraging success rates and finding costs on the UKCS (UK Continental Shelf). This is testament to the value of a robust and focused exploration strategy with commitment from industry, government and the OGA.
"The 30th offshore licensing round will focus on mature areas and is expected to be the most significant offshore round in recent decades."