Dr Andy Samuel, Chief Executive at the OGA said: ‘The UKCS is back. Big questions facing the basin have been answered in this round. Exploration is very much alive with lots of prospects generated and new wells to be drilled. The results show a great diversity of active players from super-majors to new entrants, and the hard work promoting undeveloped discoveries is starting to pay off. I’m looking to industry to rapidly press ahead with these activities and maximise recovery from these great opportunities.
“Together we are building on the good momentum and collective efforts of industry, OGA and government over the last three years, with four projects already sanctioned this year and a healthy pipeline of 50 projects under consideration.”
OGA has made available huge areas of acreage; a total of 229 blocks and 126 licenses covering 26,659 km2 has been offered for award and if the offers are taken up, the additional area under licence will be an increase of 50% on existing acreage held.
The new work programme commitments include eight firm exploration/appraisal wells, nine firm new-shoot 3D seismic surveys and 14 licences progressing straight to field development planning (second term licences).
The round may help to unlock around a dozen undeveloped discoveries containing a central estimate of 320 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of resource in undeveloped oil and gas discoveries which were previously stranded but can now be progressed through further appraisal to field development.
It is estimated the UKCS currently has around 1.5 billion boe (source: Woodmac) of resource in potentially commercial undeveloped discoveries, many of which were previously considered to be too small or technically challenging. The 30th round alone effectively provides line of sight to the progression of 20% of these untapped reserves.
In addition, using industry’s resource estimates, around 3.6 billion boe (mean-risked volume potential) of exploration prospectivity will be progressed by the new licensees.
Gunther Newcombe, Operations Director at the OGA said: “After a period of low exploration activity, support from the OGA and government has helped kick-off a revival in activity, as demonstrated by industry’s renewed interest through this licence round. It was particularly pleasing to see many companies identifying new prospects through the application of the latest seismic processing technologies and modern 3D surveys. We believe that the basin will continue to be renewed in the years to come, and look forward to working with the new licence holders to progress their resources into near-term production.”
Attention will now turn to the 31st Round, scheduled to be launched in summer 2018, which will provide high-impact exploration opportunities in under-explored and frontier areas of the UKCS. To support the next licensing round, the OGA has already released the results of the 2016 Government-Funded Seismic Programme. Almost 19,000 km of newly-acquired broadband seismic data are now freely available to download, together with approximately 23,000 km of reprocessed legacy seismic data and well data packages.
The round will cover large areas including the East Shetland Platform, North West Scotland, South West Britain and the Mid North Sea High. The seismic data are accompanied by new geotechnical studies commissioned by the OGA to investigate the key subsurface uncertainties in these areas.
See video “The UKCS is back…”
Full press release