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New gas and oil licenses

PUBLISHED: 10:39 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:45 05 July 2010

More gas and oil is to be extracted off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast after the government announced the next raft of mineral exploitation sites from the North Sea yesterday.

More gas and oil is to be extracted off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast after the government announced the next raft of mineral exploitation sites from the North Sea yesterday.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has offered 15 areas in the North Sea between Cromer and Lowestoft up for oil and gas exploration.

Its plan to 'squeeze' as much oil and gas out of the sea to boost the country's economy and energy security was welcomed by energy bosses who said the region should in a prime position to make the most of the opportunity.

First Oil, Swift and Volantis are among the record number of companies who have been offered licences to operate tens of kilometres off the two counties shorelines.

In total the government has tendered 171 licences along the whole of the North Sea to 100 companies. Up to 20 billion barrels of oil and gas remains under the sea.

Yarmouth-based offshore logistic suppliers Asco is one of several firms in the region that should be well placed to take advantage of the new round of licences.

Managing director Roger Everitt said: “It is very good news that more licences have been issued.

“The more activity that takes place in the North Sea the better it will be not only us but for the whole of East Anglia.

John Best, chief executive of the East of England Energy Group, said: “We must continue to invest in the gas and oil supply chain in Norfolk and Suffolk, which will support the new beneficial exploitation of the region's assets.”

Mr Best's comments were echoed by the chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, Malcolm Webb, who said the east of England would benefit strongly from the positive news on the latest round of licences.

Energy minister Mike O' Brien, announcing the list, said: “We are now seeing record interest from companies wishing to exploit the UK's considerable oil and gas resources in the North Sea.

“While we continue to develop low carbon sources of energy, oil and gas will continue to be an important source for the UK.

“That is why our ambition is to squeeze as much oil and gas out of the North Sea as possible.”

The 171 licences cover 257 areas of the North Sea and each section underwent a screening process on environmental grounds. Another 46 areas were examined but rejected by the government because of the impact on special areas of conservation and special protection areas.

Yesterday's announcement was the 25th round of oil and gas licences for the North Sea.

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