Sector News

UK to offer more flexible North Sea oil and gas licences

February 12, 2016

(Reuters) – Britain will offer more flexible North Sea oil and gas licences in its next tender round, the head of Britain’s oil regulator said on Thursday, a bid to make exploration work in the mature basin more attractive to oil and gas companies.

“We will shortly be announcing a new, more flexible licensing regime,” Andy Samuel, chief executive of the Oil and Gas Authority, said at the IP Week conference in London.

Exploration work in the North Sea has dropped to just a quarter of levels seen at peak time around the turn of the century as costs to look for and operate oil and gas fields in the British part of the North Sea have soared.

The new terms will allow oil and gas companies to better adapt their exploration schedules to their particular fields.

“It’s more flexible on terms, it gives industry what they wanted and fixes a couple of issues,” Samuel told Reuters.

Britain is estimated to have billions of barrels left for extraction in the North Sea, worth around 200 billion pounds to UK government coffers.

But high costs and the steep decline in oil prices have brought down exploration work in the North Sea. The OGA, created last year, is tasked with making sure North Sea oil and gas operators extract as many more barrels as possible.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps, editing by David Evans)

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