The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) has awarded 27 licenses for exploration and development related to the first batch of the 33rd Oil and Gas Licensing Round (OGJ Online, Oct. 7, 2022).
The 27 licenses were awarded in areas prioritized as they have the potential to go into production more quickly than others, NSTA said in a release Oct. 30.
In addition to the 27 licenses, six more blocks, which were also ready to be offered, have been merged into five existing licenses, the authority said.
All of the 258 blocks applied for have been through the initial Habitat Regulation Assessment and the blocks being awarded Oct. 30 have been identified as not requiring further assessment, NSTA said.
These licenses in the Central and Northern North Sea, and West of Shetland were awarded first to let operators advance their plans to explore and develop oil and gas resources. In recent years, the average time from license award to production is close to 5 years, NSTA said.
The 33rd Oil and Gas Licensing Round was launched Oct. 7, 2022, with 931 blocks and part-blocks made available for application. In total, NSTA received 115 applications from 76 companies for 258 blocks/part-blocks when the application window closed on Jan. 12, 2023.
There are currently 284 offshore fields in production in the UK North Sea and an estimated 5.25 billion boe in total projected production to 2050, the regulator said.
A recommendation for the remaining 203 blocks will be made once the Habitat Regulation Assessment Further Appropriate Assessment process has been completed.
In a separate release Oct. 30, DNO ASA said subsidiary DNO North Sea (UK) Ltd. was awarded a 50% operated interest in Blocks 9/9f, 9/10c, 9/14c, and 9/15d in the round with partner Aker BP UK Ltd.
The area lies adjacent to the Norwegian border and just west of the Aker BP-operated Alvheim hub on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The area also comprises the Agar discovery from 2018, in which the DNO held a 25% interest until it was relinquished in 2020, the company said.
Technical work will involve acquiring additional 3D seismic and potentially reprocessing the data to reduce risk and volume uncertainty. The first phase will have a duration of up to 2 years after which a decision on committing to a well will be made, DNO said.