The UK government has released the latest rounds of offshore oil and gas drilling licenses amidst increased interest from exploration companies.

Last year, offshore projects created over £6 billion in tax revenue and an additional £5 billion in revenue from along the industry’s supply chain. The sector provides employment for around 350,000 people in the UK, and has been in steady decline since output peaked in the early 2000s. The government hopes new planning regimes will help oil and gas companies reach new levels of production by exploiting resources under the coastal seabed.

UK ministers reported a potential 20 billion barrels worth of oil could be found off the nation’s coastline, with international exploration firms becoming vital to supporting the UK in realising its offshore potential. The government approved 36 offshore projects last year, and applications for the 28th round in 2014 must be submitted by the 25th of April. The government expects significantly high levels of interest in the tender, having awarded a record 219 licenses in the previous round two months ago.

Eric Doyle, Aquaterra Energy’s Regional Director – Europe, said: “As a crucial industry in the UK, the offshore oil and gas sector provides around 400,000 jobs across all of its disciplines. Aquaterra Energy’s Aberdeen office alone has doubled its annual turnover and increased its workforce by 40 percent over the past two years.

“Our Riser Analysis team in Cambridge is also growing rapidly and cementing its commitment to expansion, growth and prosperity for the firm by responding to demands from the industry. The new licensing round for domestic exploration means we will be continuing to expand our teams and develop their skills in order to take on new projects in 2014, while continuing to provide our clients with the high quality and efficient service they expect, and in turn helping to foster further economic recovery for the nation as a whole.”