Shell, Equinor, BP, TotalEnergies and NEO Energy were among 17 separate companies offered a total of 24 licenses in the second tranche of the latest oil and gas licensing round from the North Sea Transit Authority (NSTA). These awards follow the 27 licenses offered in the first allocation from October 2023.
The 74 blocks and part-blocks offered this time are all located in the Central North Sea, Northern North Sea and West of Shetland areas. All remaining blocks, the majority in the Southern North Sea and East Irish Sea, will be offered when environmental evaluations have been finalized by OPRED.
This latest round is a key part of the NSTA’s drive to support the oil and gas industry, which currently contributes around three-quarters of domestic energy needs and, according to official forecasts, will continue to do so even as demand is reduced. Internal analysis shows that the average time between licensing and first production is now close to five years, which means that licenses awarded now could start producing before the end of the decade.
“This latest batch brings total offers so far to 51, with more to come once the appropriate environmental checks are complete,” one NSTA spokesperson said. “These licenses have the potential to make a significant contribution to the UK in energy production and economic benefits, and the NSTA will work alongside the licensees to help bring them into production as quickly as possible.”