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Licensing round October update

The industry's most comprehensive list of current and recent rounds for onshore and offshore licences

Open rounds

Australia’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources opened the 2020 Offshore Petroleum Acreage Release at an online event on 26 August. Keith Pitt, minister for resources, water & Northern Australia, announced a total of 42 areas available for offshore oil and gas exploration: 28 off Western Australia, five off the Northern Territory, three off Victoria and six off the Ashmore & Cartier Islands. The total area covers approximately 100,000km² across five basins. In his address, Pitt confirmed a more conservative approach: “This year’s acreage release is dominated by areas in established oil and gas areas with existing infrastructure.” The bidding will be open for nine months, closing on 1 June 2021.

The Faroe Islands has announced it is open to out-of-round bids as a result of no bids being received under its fifth licensing round. Fugloy Ridge, Ymir Ridge and the Wyville Thomson Ridge are some of the most promising structures. Bidding is expected to remain open until the announcement of the sixth licensing round.

Pending awards

Israel’s third offshore licensing round was closed for bids on 23 September. Block 72, the only exploration block on offer, received two bids, according to the Ministry of Energy. The bids were from Tel-Aviv-listed independent Energean and a joint venture between US independent Noble Energy and Israeli producer Delek. The ministry is due to assess the bids and announce the winner on 26 October.

Norway’s Awards in Predefined Areas 2020 closed for bids on 22 September. The Ministry of Petroleum & Energy announced it had received a large number of applications from 33 oil companies, ranging from IOCs to smaller exploration firms. “In a challenging year for the petroleum industry, I am very pleased with the interest shown by the companies for new ­licences on the Norwegian Continental Shelf,” said Norwegian petroleum minister Tina Bru. The ministry’s objective is to award new production licences in the announced areas at the beginning of 2021.

Conditionally awarded

The UK Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) has offered for award 113 licence areas over 260 blocks or part-blocks to 65 companies in the country’s 32nd offshore licensing round, launched on 11 July 2019. The round offered blocks in mature producing areas close to existing infrastructure under flexible Innovate licences that allow applicants to define a licence duration and phasing. The winners ranged from BP (three awards) and Shell (three awards) to UK-based Painted Wolf Resources (six awards) across the Southern, Central and Northern North Sea, as well as West of Shetland. The OGA is taking a temporary pause from annual licence round activity following recent successful rounds, and will not run another round in the 2020-21 period.

The above licensing round updates all occurred before 28 September.

Petroleum Economist regularly updates an interactive licensing round map on its website—searchable alphabetically or by clicking on countries—at You can also sign up for future Licensing Rounds: Status Update newsletters.

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