UK government issues new oil and gas exploration licences for the North Sea

UK government issues new oil and gas exploration licences for the North Sea

North Sea Oil Platform - Image Lukasz Z /

The UK government has issued around 100 new oil and gas exploration licences for the North Sea as the country seeks to become more energy self-sufficient.

The Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg confirmed on Friday, October 7 that the licences will help to boost the economy as well as improve the country’s energy security.

Speaking the day before at the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) he said: “Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine means it is now more important than ever that we make the most of sovereign energy resources, strengthening our energy security now and into the future.

“Ensuring our energy independence means exploiting the full potential of our North Sea assets to boost domestic production – recognising that producing gas in the UK has a lower carbon footprint than importing from abroad.

“That is why we welcome the launch of the NSTA’s new licensing round, which will help support highly skilled jobs across the UK’s energy industry, boosting both our energy security and our economy.”

According to the NSTA around 100 licences are being issued for sections or blocks of the North Sea.

The NSTA’s Chief Executive Dr Andy Samuel said it was important that security of supply was “not be in conflict with net zero” and that data packs with summaries of key prospects and discoveries will be published in the hope it will “stimulate exploration and encourage new opportunities.”

The areas in which licences are being issued include west of Shetland, in the northern North Sea, the central North Sea, the southern North Sea and the east Irish Sea.

Some 898 blocks and part blocks are being made available with four areas being given priority including Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. These areas are known to contain hydrocarbons, are close to existing infrastructure and could be developed quickly.

Dr Samuel added: “The UK is forecast to continue importing natural gas as we transition to a fully renewables system and our North Sea gas has less than half the footprint of imported LNG (Liquified Natural Gas).

“This licensing round includes gas discoveries in the Southern North Sea which can be rapidly tied back to existing infrastructure.”

“The industry has committed to halving upstream emissions by 2030 and investing heavily in electrification, carbon storage and hydrogen.”

“Signs are promising so far – our first carbon storage round closed last month with 26 applications from 19 companies across all the areas we offered.”

Some 75 per cent of the UK’s energy supply comes from oil and gas and therefore it makes sense to develop this area according to Mike Tholen, Acting Chief Executive for the industry body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK).

He said: “There is no conflict between issuing new licences and reaching carbon neutrality.

“Our industry is committed to net zero and also to helping build the low-carbon energy systems of the future. But this is a journey that will take decades during which we will still need gas and oil.

“Many existing UK oil and gas fields are in decline so the risk is that production will drop much faster than demand, leaving us more dependent on imports. That is why new licences are so important.

“New licences also help maintain continuity for the energy operators and for our vital supply chain companies which, between them, employ over 200,000 people.

“The success of this and the next licensing rounds will be vital for our nation’s long-term energy security and to ensure we deliver on the UK’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050.”

Environmental campaigners have yet to comment, however, it is unlikely they will follow the same approach given the current crises, Instead they may look to work with the industry to improve its record in this area as the UK government issues new oil and gas exploration licences for the North Sea.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at


    • They’re Lying To You

      07 October 2022 • 11:13

      I can’t believe as clever a man as JRM doesn’t know Ukraine never declared their borders after the 1991 takeover of Ukraine by Soros et al and therefore Ukraine has always been Russian territory, as it has been for centuries before. How can you “illegally invade” your own territory? Also, that war actually started in 2014 in the Maydan Revolution engineered by American infiltration of the Ukraine and who allowed the Azovs to relentlessly attack the mainly Russian-speaking Donbass region for 8 long years before Feb 24, 2022, killing thousands of Russian men, women and children, because the Minsk agreements were never honoured by Western Leaders. Frankly, I admire Putin’s patience. And it was not President Putin who stopped the gas to the West, it was the West’s sanctions on him that did that – especially Boris Johnson who wouldn’t allow Zelensky to seek a peace plan with Russia in the first week of the war. Our Govt should have known Putin was streets ahead of them with his food and energy stores stocked high to protect the Russian people (and has, admirably). I am ashamed of my govt, especially Boris Johnson, who kept this war going longer than was necessary and now has the blood of thousands of Ukrainian men and boy soldiers on his hands. God forgive him.

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