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The NSTA has issued 24 new exploration licences as part of the second tranche of its 33rd Oil and Gas Licensing Round

The NSTA has issued 24 new exploration licences as part of the second tranche of its 33rd Oil and Gas Licensing Round
  • Offers range across 74 blocks and part-blocks

  • Environmental considerations given precedence

  • Offers have been made to a total of 17 companies


The following graphic shows a breakdown of the licences awarded in the latest round.

Archer Knight Infographic - NSTA - The second tranche of the 33rd offshore licensing round

The licences, spanning some 74 blocks and part-blocks have been offered to a total of 17 companies.

Equinor received the most blocks in this tranche, securing 14 blocks across two licences (one shared with its recently acquired subsidiary Suncor Energy).

The blocks offered in this tranche all  lie in the Central North Sea, Northern North Sea, and West of Shetland areas.  

The remaining blocks, the majority in the Southern North Sea and East Irish Sea, will be offered when environmental evaluations, including Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA) Appropriate Assessments, have been finalised by OPRED.

NSTA analysis show that the average time between licensing and first production is now close to five years, which means that licences awarded now could be producing before the end of the decade.


A NSTA spokesperson said:

“This latest batch brings total offers so far to 51, with more to come once the appropriate environmental checks are complete.

“These licences have the potential to make a significant contribution to the UK in energy production and economic benefits, and the NSTA will work alongside the licensees to help bring them into production as quickly as possible.”


Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero Graham Stuart said:

“We will continue to need oil and gas over the coming decades, so it is common sense to make the most of our own resources – with domestically produced gas almost four times cleaner than importing Liquefied Natural Gas from abroad.

“These new licences will strengthen our energy security now and into the future, while also helping boost our economy, by backing an industry that supports 200,000 jobs and is worth £16 billion each year.”


Central North Sea

The majority of licences awarded in Tranche 2 of the 33rd NSTA Licensing Round are located in the Central North Sea.

The NSTA awarded licences to operators covering the following blocks:

Companies Central North Sea (Blocks)

Eni Elgin/Franklin Limited


Parkmead (E&P) (with Orcadian Energy)

14/15a, 14/20d, 15/11a

Anasuria Hibiscus UK

15/13c, 15/18c

NEO Energy (with Ithaca)

15/22b, 15/23b & 15/27a, 15/28a

NEO Energy

21/25c, 22/21d

Ping Petroleum: 

21/1b, 21/6a, 21/7b

Harvester Energy

22/12b & 29/7b

Dana Petroleum

22/10b, 22/15c, 23/6, 23/11b, 23/16e
(plus 21/30g for its Trition FPSO)


23/16d, 23/17

Deltic Energy

22/24, 22/25e & 29/4b

Shell UK

30/2e, 30/3c

Orcadian Energy (with Triangle Energy UK)

29/16, 29/17, 29/18, 29/19, 29/21, 29/22, 29/23. 29/27, 29/28

North Sea Natural Resources

20/28, 20/29, 20/30a, 21/26a

Painted Wolf Resources

21/30h, 22/26e



Northern North Sea

Further north, the latest tranche of NSTA 33rd licensing round sees a total of six operators awarded 10 blocks in the Northern North Sea area.

The operators awarded licences in the Northern North Sea include:

Companies Northern North Sea

NEO Energy (with Shell UK)

211/11, 211/16b


3/10c, 3/14f, 3/15f, 3/19d, 3/20c

EnQuest Heather (with Waldorf Production UK)

9/1, 9/2c

Apache Beryl




West of Shetland

Just three operators received blocks in the West of Shetland area, with supermajors TotalEnergies and Shell partnering on a licence covering 10 blocks.

The licences awarded by the NSTA cover the following blocks:

Companies  West of Shetland (Blocks)

TotalEnergies (with Shell UK)

213/15b, 213/19, 213/20, 213/24b, 213/25, 213/29b, 213/30a, 214/11b, 214/16, 214/21

Equinor (with subsidiary Suncor Energy UK)

205/1b, 205/2b, 205/3, 205/6, 205/7, 213/23, 213/24a, 213/28, 213/29a



Read the full report from the NSTA here


For further information, please contact: David Sheret 


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