(From Aberdeen Press & Journal (UK))
Almost 90 new licences have been granted to energy firms for exploration blocks in the North Sea - including a record 27 new entrants.
The strong interest in the 88 new licences - the largest number awarded in over a decade - confirms the untapped potential of the North Sea.
However, oil giants BP and Shell, the two biggest operators in UK waters, were conspicuous by their low profiles on the list. - prompting fresh fears over their long-term presence in the North-east.
Energy Minister Stephen Timms believes the 62 businesses offered licences under the 21st offshore licensing round are set to reap the "significant rewards" still available on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS).
He said …