The Oil and Gas Authority has announced that 27 onshore areas of land or blocks, are to be offered to businesses as part of the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round. The announcement of the fresh licensing round was first made in 2014.
Other blocks of land that were applied for are to undergo further assessments to establish the environmental impact of the applications, and when this has been completed licenses will then be offered to the companies. The announcement regarding the remaining companies that have been awarded licenses is due to be made later in 2015.
Commenting on the new licences, Lord Bourne, the Energy Minister for the UK, stated:
“Keeping the lights on and powering the economy is not negotiable, and these industries will play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come.
“It’s important we press on and get shale moving, while maintaining strong environmental controls
The Government said that close to one hundred companies had applied for the initial licenses for shale gas exploration, and chemical company INEOS has revealed that it is one of the successful applicants.
With three licenses granted for shale gas exploration in the East Midlands, this opens up brand new opportunities for INEOS Shale, who pledged a £640 million investment into shale gas exploration last year.
Gary Heywood, CEO for INEOS Shale said:
"We are keen to move quickly to evaluate the potential of this resource, and determine if we can economically produce gas from our licenses. This will depend on the pace of planning approval. If we can, it will provide a local source of competitive energy and raw materials to support manufacturing jobs in the UK.”
Ministers say that the new rounds of blocks are essential to secure UK energy supplies into the future, and that they will also be a vital part of the continued UK economic recovery by creating new jobs.
Shale gas has its opponents and there has been controversy caused by plans to allow shale gas exploration in the UK. However, others argue that it is important for finding fresh sources of energy and it is vital for job creation, and for ensuring energy production into the future. The Government predicts that investment in shale gas could be worth as much as £33 billion, and it could assist in the creation of more than 60,000 jobs.