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    New licences for North Sea

    News // March 18, 2005
    For the first time since 1998 the whole of the North Sea will be open for oil and gas exploration with a record breaking 1,329 blocks on offer in the 23rd Offshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round announced earlier this week by UK Energy Minister Mike O'Brien.

    More than 50 previously fallow blocks will be on offer in this round that were not available in the previous round demonstrating that the Government and Industries 'Fallow initiative' to stimulate activity in the North Sea is working.

    The Government's recent innovations in licensing will again be available in this round with the new 'Frontier' and 'Promote' Licence being offered alongside the more traditional type licence. UK Energy Minister Mike O'Brien said: "The innovative Promoteand Frontier licences that we introduced in recent years, and which are on offer in this round, mark another milestone in our commitment to exploit the UK's oil and gas resources on the UK Continental Shelf. This 23rd Licence Round includes new areas that have not been available for some years. Together with the results coming out from the Fallow initiative, this reflects the Government's drive to developing and sustaining this vital industry and the jobs that come with it."

    Recognising the particular challenges in the West of Shetland region, the 'Frontier' licence is only on offer in this area, whilst the Promote licence is offered in areas excluding the West of Shetland:the Traditional licence will apply to all regions.

    Under the 'Frontier' and 'Promote' Licences, the rental fee will be cut by 90 per cent or the first two years compared to the rate for a Traditional Production Licence. This, together with the extendedexploration and development periods on the 'Frontier' Licence, will give companies an added incentive to find oil and gas in new regions.

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