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Britain opens supplementary oil and gas licensing round

[LONDON] Britain's Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) said on Tuesday that companies can apply for new licences to drill for offshore oil and gas in a supplementary licensing round.

The fourteen blocks on offer in the supplementary round are outside of the 29th Oil and Gas Licensing Round offer area, which closed last month, the OGA said.

Locations are across the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS), from the Southern North Sea to East of Shetland.

The hunt for new oil and gas fields in the British part of the North Sea is expected to fall to the lowest in 45 years this year as energy companies have scaled back exploration budgets due to weak oil prices.

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Despite being an old basin, Britain's North Sea is estimated to have billions of barrels left for extraction, worth around 200 billion pounds (S$373.791 billion) to British government coffers.

"The UKCS has both frontier and mature basins and this Supplementary Round is an important part of our approach to facilitate exploration across the whole of the UKCS," Andy Samuel, chief executive of the OGA, said in a statement.

The round opens for applications at 0800 GMT on Tuesday and closes at 1600 GMT on March 7, 2017.