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Energy: Oil and Gas Licences

Volume 705: debated on Wednesday 12 November 2008

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change (Mike O’Brien) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

After thorough consideration of 193 applications made in the 25th offshore oil and gas licensing round, I have decided to offer 171 production licences. This makes the 25th offshore oil and gas licensing round one of the most successful since offshore licensing began in 1964. This demonstrates the continuing attractiveness both of the United Kingdom continental shelf as an oil- and gas-producing province and of DECC’s licensing system.

In addition to the strategic environmental assessment (SEA), which I described in my Statement to the House when I invited applications for the 25th licensing round, my officials have carried out a screening assessment on the blocks for which applications were received.

The screening exercise found that significant effects on protected nature conservation areas could not be excluded in relation to 46 blocks. Detailed environmental assessments will be required before a decision can be reached in relation to licensing of these blocks. These assessments will examine the implications for the protected nature conservation areas of awarding oil and gas licences. Accordingly, I will not be offering licences for these blocks at this time.