UK oil and gas investment is looking good after the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change [DECC] announced earlier today, 25th October, the winners of the record breaking 167 new licences awarded in the 27th Licensing Round.
These licences cover 330 North Sea blocks; and 61 more blocks are under environmental assessment.
Back in May DECC announced that the 27th Licensing Round had attracted a total of 224 applications covering 418 blocks of the UK Continental Shelf, the most ever received and 37 more than the previous high received in the last licensing round.
Energy Minister John Hayes says: ‘Fortune has favoured the UK. Oil and gas from our waters provides around half the energy we need to heat our homes, fuel our cars and power our industry. It is the single largest industrial UK investor, supporting 440,000 jobs, and benefits the UK’s trade balance to the tune of £40 billion.
‘This successful licensing round shows we are taking the right action to offer certainty and confidence to investors. Our fiscal regime is now encouraging small fields into production and our licensing regime supports new faces as well the big players to invest. Importantly, we are guaranteeing every last economic drop of oil and gas is produced for the benefit of the UK.
‘It is our work with industry that is cultivating this precious resource, making our seas a fertile landscape for investors for many years to come.’
From Argyll’s perspective, a block of licences has been awarded in the Atlantic, west of Tiree and Coll.
In the light of a recent article and consequent conversations on this site – concerning licences for the Rathlin Basim and the productive potential in its proximity and geological relationship to waters off Kintyre and Islay, the sea area map showing the licences awarded west of Tiree will be great interest.
The map shows a great swathe of waters off Argyll in which blocks are on offer; and blocks already licensed to the immediate south of Islay and towards Kintyre.
There is another matter of substantial importance in relation to the ongoing controversy over the UK Government’s radical reorganisation of coastguard cover and incident coordination for the entire UK, including inshore and offshore islands.
We include a second downloadable map below, for licences awarded today, licences already awarded and b locks on offer in what is regarded as a valuable but difficult extraction area west of Shetland. The map is a virtual blizzard of activity.
Conjure the welter of industry service shipping and air transport in this area – in addition to the variety of floating and semi submersible platforms themselves – with anchor handlers, supply ships, FSOs, tankers and helicopters, all in the hostile conditions of the open Atlantic.
Then add the growing installations in the Atlantic off the Argyll coast and islands.
The possibility of a serious human and environmental disaster is ever present in this context.
At best there will one Emergency Towing Vessel within reach and in the event of any serious incident – which in these physical circumstances cannot be discounted – and with chronic understaffing at the coastguard stations, a key incident coordination role would be played by the call centre at Fareham on the south coast in Hampshire, whose knowledge of local circumstances would be far from automatic.