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# uk makes a splash with north sea licences (artic

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    UK makes a splash with licences

    By Upstream staff

    The UK government has today awarded a record 152 licences as part of its 23rd round for oil and gas exploration.

    Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said he was determined to maximise production of the North Sea's remaining reserves.

    A total of 152 licences were awarded to 99 companies, including 24 new entrants to the North Sea, in what is the biggest round since licences were first offered by the UK in 1964.

    The awards are seen as signalling a revival in interest by oil companies in the UK North Sea.

    Wicks, who addressed the opening day of the Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen, said that maximising the exploitation of the remaining reserves in the North Sea - which could be up to 28 billion barrels of oil - was a priority.

    He said: "I'm impressed with the drive and determination of the companies that are seeking to make this goal a reality."

    In 2002, the government introduced Promote licences to encourage smaller, more entrepreneurial companies to bid.

    Out of the 152 licences, covering 264 blocks, six were of the Frontier category, 70 were Traditional and 76 were of the Promote kind.

    The previous high was the fourth round in 1972 when 118 licences were issued.

    Wicks said a total of 17 wells have been firmly committed to so far, more than any amount promised for a decade.

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