High prices boost North Sea region

High commodity prices, creative licensing and use of new technologies have all combined to improve activity levels and project spending in this key region. Activity and spending are up in the UK North Sea and onshore, as operators take advantage of high commodity prices and improved licensing terms. So far, the 10% production tax surcharge imposed last year is only proving to be a nuisance. However, if prices fall or some other incident occurs to lower profitability, then the surcharge could contribute toward a pull-back in plans by operators. 23rd Licensing Round. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry opened the 23rd Seaward Licensing Round on March 10, 2005. Under this round, 1,329 blocks in the UK offshore sector were on offer, Fig. 1. For the first time since 1998, the entire North Sea was open for oil and gas exploration.

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