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Offshore Licensing

Volume 116: debated on Wednesday 13 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects to announce licence awards under the 10th round of offshore licensing; and if he will make a statement.

I have today announced the conditional award of petroleum production licences for 51 blocks in the tenth round of offshore licensing. These lie in the northern North sea, the Rockall trough and the Moray firth area, and in the central and southern North sea."The objectives of' the round have been met in full: the award of these 51 blocks meets our target for the number of blocks we hoped to be able to award, and ensures continuity in exploration work. The licence awards will provide the potential for development of our oil and gas discoveries in the 1990s to replace existing fields as they become depleted.The technical quality of the successful applications was higher than ever before. The approach by applicants was, in many cases, innovative, particularly in seeking our new and less obvious locations for possible oil and gas reserves in areas which had previously been licensed but relinquished.This confirms that oil companies still recognise considerable potential in the mature oil province of the North sea: it also suggests that we are now on the threshold of a second generation of exploration it this area. The seismic and drilling work programmes proposed will in many cases exploit new exploration techniques now available. Those being awarded licences in the tenth round have committed themselves to drilling a higher average number of wells per block than in the very successful ninth round.I have taken care to ensure that the environment will be protected. When inviting applications last year I made clear that in certain blocks, particularly those close to the coast, there would be drilling restrictions or other special requirements imposed to reflect the sensitivity of the areas for fishing, wildlife and navigation. All applicants for these blocks have been informed of these conditions.

A copy of the list of awards has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses."