Energy Minister Charles Hendry today granted forty-six new licences to explore UK waters for oil and gas.
Including 110 blocks on the UK Continental Shelf, the licences cover the Shetlands, North Sea, English Channel and Morecambe Bay area.
The licences are part of the 26th offshore oil and gas licensing round. They were not granted at the same time as a first, larger swathe of licences to give DECC time to take special areas of conservation (SACs) and special protection areas (SPAs) into consideration.
Mr Hendry said: “These further licenses have been subject to rigorous examination, and we are now satisfied that initial exploration can go ahead. Continued high levels of interest and the award today of these licences gives me yet more reason to be optimistic for a prosperous 2012 for the UK oil and gas sector.”
He added: “Oil and gas remains crucial to the UK economy – contributing around 2% to the country’s GDP.”