Fields and field development

Fields and field development

Plans, ruler, glasses, calculator and hard hat on a table

In this section you will find: 

  • a list of UKCS field partners
  • a tool to search for information about individual fields
  • information about the Oil and Gas Field Development Plan (including Production Operatorship)
  • an outline of how fields are determined
  • information on regulation following Field Development Plan authorisation (including the Stewardship and Production Efficiency review process)
  • information about Offshore Gas Storage Project Development Plans
  • guidance for the development of trans-boundary oil and gas fields with Norway

DECC expects companies to work their licences. In recent years, the amount of acreage left untouched, and those exclusive rights unexploited, has become a matter of concern. This led PILOT (formerly the Oil & Gas Industry Task Force) to instigate the Fallow Initiative, which incorporated a process to ensure UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) licences are optimally worked to maximise economic recovery of oil and gas.

Legislative framework

The Oil Taxation Act 1975 introduced and made provision for Petroleum Revenue Tax (PRT) to be levied on all oil and gas fields. Schedule 1 of the Act states that all fields are to be "determined" by a boundary drawn around them. Following debate around the Oil Taxation Bill, it became clear the boundary was to be drawn in accordance with geological criteria alone so the field could be defined as a single geological petroleum structure. Field boundaries may only cover an area that is part of a licensed area. Occasionally fields may have a top and a base, or overlie or abut one another.

The 1993 Finance Act abolished PRT for new fields and created two categories of field:

  • old fields: those given development consent before 16 March 1993 – are subject to PRT
  • new fields: not subject to PRT, but receive determinations and re-determinations as appropriate so all fields are defined in the same way. Determinations are still required for corporation tax purposes.

Field determination process

A proposed determination of a field must be made before the Minister can approve an oil field development.

The process for determination involves issuing a proposal (for the boundary) to all licensees with an interest in the licence (blocks in which the field is situated) and licensees in the adjacent blocks, so all parties can ensure their interests in the oil field will be recognised. The boundary is defined as:

  • offshore – by parallels of latitude and meridians joining the co-ordinate points
  • onshore – by grid lines of the UK National Grid

Licensees have 60 days from the date on which a proposal is issued to lodge any objection to it. They will then have an opportunity to present any specific concerns in more detail. The final determination will be made following all relevant discussion, and must be in place prior to first production.

Fields may be re-determined any time at the request of any party following the acquisition of new information – either seismic or from wells – that indicates the original determination is no longer valid. An identical procedure to that described above is followed in each case.

As all fields are determined as areas of which every part is, or is part of, an area licensed under the Petroleum Act 1998, it follows that when such a licensed area is relinquished the field must be re-determined to exclude that area.



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