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New North Sea oil and gas licences

Hundreds of new oil and gas licences will be granted in a controversial decision by the UK government.

The UK government and the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) have announced a joint commitment to undertake future licensing rounds, which will continue to be subject to a climate compatibility test.

By adopting a more flexible application process, licences could also be offered near currently licensed areas – unlocking reserves which can be brought online faster due to existing infrastructure and previous relevant assessments.

With the independent Climate Change Committee predicting around a quarter of the UK’s energy demand will still be met by oil and gas when the UK reaches net zero in 2050, the Government is taking steps to slow the rapid decline in domestic production of oil and gas, which could secure domestic energy supply and reduce reliance on hostile states.

The NSTA – responsible for regulating the oil, gas, and carbon storage industries – is currently running the 33rd offshore oil and gas licensing round. They expect the first of the new licences to be awarded in the autumn, with the round expected to award over 100 licences in total.

This comes as a new analysis released by the NSTA shows that the carbon footprint of domestic gas production is around one-quarter of the carbon footprint of imported liquified natural gas.

See: Hundreds of new North Sea oil and gas licences to boost British energy independence and grow the economy: 31 July 2023 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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