NSTA launches second investigation into company accused of failing to support UK energy security
(WO) – An oil and gas company is under investigation for possibly failing to meet license commitments designed to stimulate activity, in support of the UK’s energy security.
The North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) is focused on supporting the UK’s security of supply, including through the ongoing 33rd Licensing Round, which attracted 115 bids from 76 companies.
The NSTA expects companies with valuable licenses to progress exploration and production as quickly as possible, in line with their license commitments and the NSTA’s strategy. Licensees are obliged to pursue economic recovery, while assisting the government in the drive to reach net zero.
The investigation will consider whether the company being investigated was obliged under the terms of a license it was awarded in a prior licensing round to shoot a seismic survey which would help inform its decision on whether to drill an exploration well. The investigation will also consider if the licensee did not provide a satisfactory alternative work program to ensure progress on the acreage continued.
The investigation will also determine whether a sanction should be imposed on the company. Such a sanction could include a financial penalty of up to £1 million.
This is the second investigation opened in recent months into a company suspected of failing to meet its license commitments, such as shooting 3D seismic, within agreed timescales.
Jacob Blatch, NSTA Interim Head of Disputes and Sanctions, said, “The NSTA works closely with industry to drive forward exploration and production activities to help the UK meet as much energy demand as possible from its domestic oil and gas reserves.
“However, as opening this investigation demonstrates, we will scrutinize incidents where licensees potentially sit on licenses and make no real progress on fulfilling obligations.”