Irish explorer considering additional UK licence bids

Geoff Percival

Irish exploration company, United Oil and Gas, is considering applying for further UK licences, as part of that country’s latest North Sea licensing round.

The Dublin-based company — headed up by former Tullow Oil executives — has built up a strong international asset base, since floating in London last year, by taking shares of licences in the UK, Italy, and Jamaica.

Last week, Britain’s oil-and-gas authority launched a new licensing round, with 1,766 offshore oil-and-gas blocks in the North Sea up for grabs, in a bid to attract further investment in under-explored areas of the mature basin, which is enjoying a revival of investor interest.

“We will be looking closely at the blocks on offer in Round 31 over the coming weeks. If we see an opportunity that we believe can enhance our UK portfolio, then we will make an application,” said United’s chief executive, Brian Larkin.

The application process will begin in November, with applicants likely to receive a decision during the first half of next year. Part of the areas on offer are covered by UK government-supported, seismic data packages.

The UK is planning to launch another licensing round next summer, which will focus on mature areas.

In May, United became the first Irish explorer in 10 years to be awarded in a UK licensing round. It won two licensing blocks in the North Sea, taking its British-based portfolio to three blocks, including a share of the highly-rated Crown discovery, which contains an estimated 16m barrels of oil.

United is due to drill at its first UK well in the autumn: the shallow water Colter discovery, lying next to Wytch Farm, on England’s south coast, which is Europe’s largest onshore gas field.

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