The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) in the United Kingdom launched the 31st round of Offshore Licensing in 2018. Blocks of open acreage on the UK Continental Shelf were offered to oil and gas companies. There are now 1,766 blocks in total available in frontier areas. You can learn more about the UK Continental Shelf in the PDF attachment to this post. 

The 30th round saw high levels of interest from the industry, resulting in OGA opening up new opportunities for companies to propose additional blocks in locations classed as mature areas. Marcel Kooter has many years of experience working in the oil and gas industry across all sectors including upstream, midstream and downstream, with extensive knowledge of commercial strategy, B2B and B2C models. 

Submissions for the OGA’s 31st offshore licensing round needed to be entered by the 18th of July 2018, with all final decisions made in the first half of 2019. This left time to plan the 32nd licensing round, expected to be launched in summer 2019 and focusing on the UK Continental Shelf’s mature areas. 

Technical Evaluation of Applications 

The 31st Licensing Round provided significant opportunities for businesses to acquire acreage across the frontier areas of the UKCS, with a 370,000-kilometre squared aggregate area. The frontier areas include the English Channel, the Atlantic Margin, the Mid North Sea High, and the East Shetland Platform.  

The closing date for applications was the 7th of November 2018, after which time a technical evaluation of all applications was commenced by the OGA. More information about the role of the OGA can be viewed in the embedded short video.  

Successful applicants were informed of the decisions made by the OGA in early 2019. There were a total of 36 applications received from 35 companies, which covered 164 frontier-area blocks of the UKCS. The applications came from a strong and diverse range of companies, from microbusinesses right through to multinationals. 

Supplementary Licensing Round 

Prior to the launch of the 32nd Offshore Licensing Round, the OGA launched a Supplementary Round as part of the 31st Round. This Supplementary Round focused on the Greater Buchan area, with an Area Plan designed to maximise economic recovery.  

The Greater Buchan area can be found in the Outer Moray Firth region of the UK North Sea and there are an estimated 150 to 300 million barrels of oil equivalent to be developed from the area. Features of the area include a considerable expanse of acreage that is currently unlicensed, which includes several undeveloped discoveries.  

As part of the plans for the Supplementary Round, the OGA encouraged companies to look at ways of working collaboratively and in partnership with each other to maximise progress in the area in terms of both new developments and exploration. 

Acreage Offerings 

Once the OGA made its final decisions, there were 30 companies in total offered 37 licence areas encompassing 141 blocks or part-blocks. These companies ranged from new entrants to the market to super-majors, with the OGA highlighting the broad spectrum of companies when announcements were made.  

Several programmes for proposed new work were also secured within the 31st Round. A number of incentives were offered by the OGA to encourage interest in the 31st Round, including well and seismic data, prospect and discovery reports, digital maps, and new data and analyses. New prospects were generated, and acreage was sought in previously unlicensed areas, indicating a positive forecast for the future of the area. 

The infographic attachment looks at the UK oil and gas industry in numbers.